Sunburn for 9.30.16 – The Grand Dame of Florida politics


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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Marian Johnson is counting down the days until Election Day.

Election Day 2018, that is.

While the 2016 election is less than 40 days away, Johnson, the senior vice president for political operations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said her team is already starting to ponder the next election cycle.

The Governor and the Cabinet will be on the ballot, in what promise to be highly contested races. Two-thirds of the state Legislature is up for grabs with all of the state House seats and half of the state Senate seats to be voted on.

“You can’t let time go by. You can’t take a break,” she said during a chat at the 2016 Future of Florida Forum this week. “In July, we were think about the Aug. 30 primary, the Nov. 8 general and 2018, and looking at what’s coming up.”

That isn’t to say the Florida Chamber of Commerce has put 2016 in its rear view mirror. The statewide business organization launched an aggressive social media and digital campaign during the primary, which paid off in several races. And expect digital to be a big part of the Chamber’s political strategy in the future.

“I feel very strongly that we will continue to do those things in the future,” she said.

With a handful of weeks until this year’s elections, there are a few things Johnson said she’s paying close attention to. For starters: How Donald Trump, the GOP nominee, is performing in a few key state Senate districts.

That’s especially true in Senate Districts 8 (Republican Keith Perry versus Democrat Rod Smith), 18 (Republican Dana Young versus Democrat Bob Buesing), 22 (Republican Kelli Stargel versus Democrat Debra Wright), and 37 (Republican Miguel Diaz de la Portilla versus Jose Javier Rodriguez).

Johnson said his presence may be most felt in Miami-Dade County, where she said it appears to be “going against the incumbent” Diaz de la Portilla.

“There are several seats where Trump is actually going to help legislative candidates,” she said. “If Trump were not doing good in those districts, it could make a difference in the Democrat or Republican being elected.”

SPOTTED: Stephanie Smith and Cesar Fernandez of Uber Florida, Sen. Aaron Bean, Jay Beyrouti, Ellyn BogdanoffAmanda Bowen, Bill Carlson, Raquel Cisneros, Sara Clements, Chris Hart, Jeff JohnsonJon Johnson and Darrick McGhee of Johnson & Blanton, Christian Minor, Chris Moya, Jesse Panuccio, Pam Rogan, Sen. Wilton Simpson, Jim Spratt, Matt Ubben.

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— More from the Future of Florida Forum — 

RICK SCOTT’S GOAL FOR FINAL YEARS IN OFFICE: ‘JOBS, AND THEN JOBS, AND THEN JOBS’ via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Naples Republican was one of the keynote speakers at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum in Orlando … The governor used his speech to not only pump up his proposal to set aside $85 million for economic incentives, but also to talk about the need to create a business-friendly environment and grow jobs. “My goal for the last 830 days is jobs, and jobs and then jobs and then jobs,” he said. “It’s the most important thing for a family.” The governor ran on a jobs platform in 2010, and has remained laser-focused on job creation during his time in office. The state created nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs since December 2010, and Scott said those job gains are due in part to cuts in taxes and business regulations. But Scott said a focus on education and public safety also has helped boost job creation. “When I get out of office, I want people to say ‘my business has to be in Florida, because I know I can serve my customer better if I’m in Florida. I have to be in Florida because I can get a good-paying job. I have to be in Florida because my children have a better chance of living the dream of this country,’” he said. “If we’re going to continue the successes we have, we have to be more aggressive.”

DESPITE PUSHBACK, SCOTT WANTS $85 MILLION TO LURE JOBS via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Saying Florida needs to be in “the game” of trying to lure new companies, Gov. Scott on Thursday said he will ask state legislators to give him $85 million in the coming year for incentives. The move is sure to set up yet another showdown with the Republican-controlled Legislature, since the next House speaker has already labeled business incentives “corporate welfare” and has suggested that any spending on economic development efforts is wasteful. Last year the GOP governor asked for $250 million in incentives only to end up frustrated after state legislators rejected the request and refused to grant any new funding.

RICHARD CORCORAN REAX: “The House’s position on this issue has been clear. The government engaging in social engineering to pick winners and losers that benefit the 1% is a bad deal for Florida taxpayers. There will not be any corporate welfare in the House budget.”

AFP-FLORIDA READY TO ONCE AGAIN OPPOSE SCOTT ON ENTERPRISE FLORIDA FUNDS via the Sunshine State News – The Florida chapter of fiscal conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) was active in defeating Scott’s proposal earlier this year and showed no signs of backing down. “Here we go again,” said Chris Hudson, AFP’s director in Florida … “Enterprise Florida has proven to be a failure at all levels. They were supposed to be a partnership between taxpayers and the private sector, but the program resulted in funds coming almost exclusively from taxpayer dollars. They promised to help create jobs, but have failed by coming up short of their job creation goals by nearly half and have ultimately yielded a negative return on investment for taxpayers. EFI was supposed to serve small businesses, but the truth is that they have mostly served well connected insiders to prop up private companies on the backs of Florida taxpayers. The legislators that stood against this corporate welfare slush fund this year did the right thing by not expanding this failed program. Lawmakers should be finding ways to cut spending, not take away valuable resources that would better serve Florida families.”

ENTERPRISE FLORIDA CEO SEARCH POSTPONED via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Enterprise Florida postponed its search for a new president indefinitely after Scott canceled one-on-one meetings with the two finalists to address the development of Tropical Storm Matthew. Stan Connally, whom Scott appointed to lead the search committee for the next chief of the private-public economic partnership, said it was unclear when the selection process would continue. “As of right now, it’s just a matter of when the governor can fit it into his schedule, and I’m not sure he has had the chance to decide that,” Connally said … “Once he has had the chance to meet with both candidates, we’ll be able to move forward, but until then, we don’t have a schedule just yet.” Matthew is expected to become a hurricane Friday, but its potential impact on Florida was unclear. The storm was moving west in the Caribbean Sea and was expected to turn north by Saturday, according to a National Hurricane Center forecast. Scott’s public schedule was revised to include a 4:45 p.m. phone briefing with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon. Despite Scott’s absence, the search committee still conducted its own interviews with the candidates in Orlando during Enterprise Florida’s quarterly meeting.

JEFF ATWATER URGES LEGISLATIVE ACTION TO TACKLE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – State regulators approved a 14.5 percent average increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The new rates are lower than ones initially proposed by National Council on Compensation Insurance. The council proposed new rates earlier this year, but resubmitted the proposal after two Florida Supreme Court rulings, which are widely blamed for increasing workers’ compensation costs. “This is not self-correcting,” said Atwater during the 2016 Future of Florida Forum in Orlando. And decisions have been recently made within our court system … if left unaddressed are going to place new significant cost drivers within the business models that are going to lead to less employment and more expensive price points. That’s a reality.” Atwater urged state lawmakers to address the issue as soon as they can, saying if the state does nothing the 14.5 percent rate increase that was just announced is just the opening act” … “If this is unaddressed, these costs are going to drive us up and it is going to impact our recovery,” he said.

FEDERAL RESERVE’S DENNIS LOCKHART TELLS FLORIDA LEADERS RATE HIKE COMING ‘BEFORE LONG’ via Jeff Harrington of the Tampa Bay Times – Lockhart, who acts as the Fed’s Southeast representative as president and CEO of the Federal Bank of Atlanta, told Florida business and political leaders … that he supported the Fed’s decision to stand pat on the interest rate this month. He called reaching full employment and 2 percent inflation the “North Stars” in setting monetary policy. “In my opinion, the national economy remains short of these two steady conditions … but not by a lot,” he said during a morning keynote speech at the Future of Florida Forum organized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce. In a press briefing afterward, Lockhart said he sees the Fed starting to raise rates “in one of the coming meetings,” but he declined to predict any action at its November meeting. Asked about any political motivation within the Fed — as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has suggested —Lockhart said: “I don’t wade into politics. … The Fed is independent of short-term politics. Federal Reserve officials should not and do not opine on comments of politicians. He added, however, that “never” in the 9 1/2 years he has been in this role has he seen “rank political considerations” play a role in the Fed’s decisions. In the third quarter ending … Lockhart forecast, economic growth will end up slightly below 3 percent. “We believe this pickup in the pace of growth will continue through the fourth quarter, so overall growth for the year will likely end up just shy of 2 percent,” he said. “2 percent annual rate of growth has been the story of the economy’s recovery since the recession ended.”

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— Back to the campaign trail —

DAYS UNTIL: First day domestic vote-by-mail ballots can be sent – 4; first day of early voting – 28; Election Day – 38; first Legislative Organization Session – 52; premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 76; start of 2017 Legislative Session – 157.

JEB BUSH: NOT VOTING HILLARY CLINTON OR DONALD TRUMP WOULD SEND MESSAGE via Jordan Frasier of NBC News — Bush has no qualms saying he won’t vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton in November and now he’s suggesting other voters making that same decision would send a clear message.  “Well, if everybody didn’t vote, that would be a pretty powerful political statement, wouldn’t it?” the former GOP presidential candidate told reporters Thursday evening.  Bush denied a report in the New York Daily News that he seemed to encourage attendees at a private lunch earlier this week in New York City to support Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson.  “I haven’t made up my mind what I’m going to do — I’m going to vote and I’ve made it clear I’m not going to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton,” Bush told reporters. “I’m not derelict in my civic duties, I’m going to vote, but the presidency is a place where, for whatever reason, I’m not comfortable supporting either party’s nominee.”

— “Jeb Bush: Releasing news of father’s endorsement was ‘inappropriate” via Bianca Padra Ocasio of POLITICO

TRUMP SUPER PAC LED BY SCOTT AIRS TV SPOT ATTACKING CLINTON via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post – The ad by Rebuilding America Now seems to underscore the view by some Trump supporters that their candidate failed to seize on a number of opportunities to challenge Clinton’s ethics and judgment in their Monday night debate. “Sadly, the first presidential debate Monday night missed a very important discussion of Hillary Clinton’s legacy of dishonesty,” Scott said. “In this new ad, we are reminding voters how Hillary promised to “always” tell the truth. Unfortunately, her actions tell another story,” he added. The TV spot will begin airing on MSNBC and FOX-News.

LATEST POLL OF FLORIDA via Mason-Dixon Polling & Research: Clinton 46%, Trump 42% – According to the pollster, “the race in Florida continues to predictably split among the various demographic sub-groups. … In the generally decisive I-4 corridor, Clinton currently has a slight advantage. She now has a 47%-40 in the swing Tampa Bay area, while Trump only leads 46%-43% in more Republican leaning Central Florida.”

HILLARY CLINTON VISITS FORT PIERCE, CORAL SPRINGS via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – The Democratic presidential nominee will make a morning appearance at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce and an afternoon stop at the Coral Springs Gymnasium in Coral Springs. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. for the Fort Pierce event, where her campaign says she will make remarks on national service. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for the Coral Springs event.

DEMOCRATS FRET OVER CLINTON GROUND GAME IN FLORIDA via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Despite roughly 500 full time campaign staffers spread across Florida to help Clinton win forever close Florida, party leaders and activists across the state are fretting about the campaign’s ground game. Even Clinton campaign staffers in other states are quietly buzzing about the Florida campaign struggling to meet its goals for voter registration and other outreach benchmarks. “There needs to be more of a presence,” said Ken Welch, a Democratic County Commissioner in Pinellas County. “I haven’t seen it yet in the places where I would expect to — churches, even Little League games. You absolutely saw that four years ago with the Obama campaign” … “The adjectives I would use are underwhelming and stressful,” Monica Russo, president of the Service Employees International Union Florida service workers union said of the campaign’s voter outreach effort. U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings … has already let leaders of Brooklyn-based Clinton campaign have it for not focusing enough on grass roots organizing — “If you spend $20-million on television, and you don’t move the needle then you need to recalibrate.” — and is confident they got the message. “I had a conversation with a kid in Brooklyn, and I said, ‘Well how is it you’re in a position to know more about turnout than I do?’ He told me he had a Masters in political science,” Hastings recounted. “I said, ‘Well, I have won more elections than you spent time in school to get your Masters.’” Florida polls show a dead-even race, and the Clinton campaign insists it is well positioned.

JOE BIDEN TO CAMPAIGN FOR CLINTON IN FLORIDA ON MONDAY via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Biden will campaign for Clinton in Orlando and Sarasota …   Specific times and locations for the Biden events have not been announced.

PRESIDENT OBAMA TO GIVE HEALTH CARE SPEECH WEDNESDAY IN TAMPA via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Obama will deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act at University of South Florida in Tampa … “Located in Hillsborough County, which has a strong health care system, USF offers a diverse set of training programs for health professions and has led efforts to sign up people for health insurance,” the White House said. “Further details about the president’s travel to Florida will be made available in the coming days.” It’s unclear whether Obama will do another event for Clinton, though he is expected to hit the road on her behalf in October.

TRUMP’S MOCKING OF DISABLED REPORTER SUBJECT OF NEW FLORIDA TV AD  via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – A new Priorites USA Action ad in Florida continues to hammer away at Trump’s comments about a disabled reporter. Polling has shown those remarks offended a wide group of voters and the Clinton campaign and her allies have sought to capitalize. The spot is backed by $10 million, the group said and will also run in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado.

‘SHE HAS A NAME,’ ALICIA MACHADO, AND IT IS EVERYWHERE via Amy Chozick and Michael Grynbaum of The New York Times – With the Clinton campaign’s help, Machado has gone on a publicity blitz since Clinton told her story on the debate stage at Hofstra University. This explosion of interest is the combination of a political attack that resonates with two key constituencies for Clinton – suburban women and Hispanics – and a made-for-television battle between the Republican nominee for president and a beauty queen. In 48 hours, Machado has been written about in more than 150 print news articles, referred to on TV more than 6,023 times and mentioned on Twitter nearly 200,000 times. She appeared on NBC’s ‘Today’ show, ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Univision and Telemundo.

OHIO, LONG A BELLWETHER, IS FADING ON THE ELECTORAL MAP via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times – After decades as one of America’s most reliable political bellwethers, an inevitable presidential battleground that closely mirrored the mood and makeup of the country, Ohio is suddenly fading in importance this year. Hillary Clinton has not been to the state since Labor Day, and her aides said Thursday that she would not be back until next week, after a monthlong absence, effectively acknowledging how difficult they think it will be to defeat Donald Trump here. Ohio has failed to keep up with the demographic changes transforming the United States, growing older, whiter and less educated than the nation at large. And the two parties have made strikingly different wagers about how to win the White House in this election: Trump … is relying on a demographic coalition that, while well-tailored for Ohio even in the state’s Democratic strongholds, leaves him vulnerable in the more diverse parts of the country where Clinton is spending most of her time. It is a jarring change for political veterans here, who relish being at the center of the country’s presidential races: Because of newer battleground states, Clinton can amass the 270 electoral votes required to win even if she loses Ohio. “Their map is a little different, and Ohio is not as crucial as it once was,” conceded James Ruvolo, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party who lives in the Toledo area, a Democratic bulwark that Mrs. Clinton has not visited once this year. “They’ll keep putting in money, but I don’t think they’re going to put a lot of her time in here.”

WILL ‘SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’ TAKE DOWN TRUMP? via Shane Goldmacher of POLITICO – SNL, which timed the launch of its 42nd season for the weekend after the first ClintonTrump clash, made one big reveal: actor Alec Baldwin will debut as Trump. But heading into Saturday, the biggest drama is how Baldwin and SNL will parody Trump: Will they mock his sniffles? His hair? His orange hue? His hand gesticulations? His supposed microphone malfunction? Or do they cast him in more ominous terms: as a racist hate-monger? … [L]ast week, Samantha Bee took some of her comedy colleagues and network executives to task on her show Full Frontal for coddling Trump and inviting him on their programs. “I guess because ratings matter more than brown people,” Bee exclaimed. “Sure, he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants but hey, he’s good at entertainment!”

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MARCO RUBIO ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ ABOUT POSSIBLE TRUMP CUBA BUSINESS via Ines De La Cuetara of ABC News – “This is something they’re going to have to give a response to. I mean, it was a violation of American law, if that’s how it happened,” Rubio said on the ESPN/ABC “Capital Games” podcast. The report says the Trump-owned company secretly conducted business on the island under Fidel Castro’s communist regime. According to Newsweek, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts paid a consulting firm to help the company in the event the U.S. loosened trade restrictions. The consulting firm and the Trump company later attempted to cover up the transaction by making it look like legal spending for a charity. Rubio … insisted he would reserve judgment until he had learned all the facts. “I hope the Trump campaign is going to come forward and answer some questions about this, because if what the article says is true — and I’m not saying that it is, we don’t know with a hundred percent certainty — I’d be deeply concerned about it. I would,” he said.

REVELATIONS ABOUT TRUMP ATTEMPT TO DO BUSINESS IN CUBA ROIL MIAMI POLITICS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – Revelations that Trump’s hotel and casino company secretly spent money trying to do business in Cuba in violation of the U.S. trade embargo roiled Miami politics … forcing top Cuban-American Republicans to express concern about Trump’s dealings while maintaining that the allegation isn’t reason enough to disavow the presidential nominee yet. Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts paid at least $68,000 to a consulting firm in late 1998 in an attempt to give Trump’s business a head start in Cuba if the U.S. loosened or lifted trade sanctions, according to a front-page Newsweek report titled “The Castro Connection.” The consulting firm, Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp., later instructed the casino company to make the spending appear legal by saying it was for charity. U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami, who has espoused a strong pro-embargo position throughout his political career, struck a similar tone, saying for now he gives Trump the benefit of the doubt. “What we have so far are unnamed sources,” he cautioned reporters, calling the Newsweek report “preliminary.” “It’s important to see what the facts are.”

PATRICK MURPHY HAMMERS RUBIO OVER REPORT TRUMP VIOLATED U.S.-CUBA EMBARGO via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Murphy is hoping to use a Newsweek report that a Trump company violated the U.S. embargo of Cuba against his Republican rival Rubio, a fierce embargo supporter who has backed the billionaire businessman in his run for the White House. The move by Murphy to blast Rubio’s ties to Trump comes at a time when poll after poll shows him trailing badly in the U.S. Senate race and struggling to gain name recognition with the state’s large number of Hispanic voters. … “Perhaps, after months of Donald Trump’s bigoted attacks and misogynistic comments, Marco Rubio will finally disavow him,” said Galia Slayen, a Murphy spokeswoman. “Or, more likely, there is no issue too sacred for Marco Rubio if it comes between him and his own political ambition. Our guess? He will respond with more of the same: silence.”

POLL: RUBIO CONTINUES LEAD OVER MURPHY via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – A new poll from Public Policy Polling shows Republican incumbent Rubio potentially growing his lead over Murphy. The survey of 826 likely voters this week found Rubio with 42 percent support, while Murphy had 35 percent and Libertarian Paul Stanton had 9 percent. About 15 percent were undecided. (The four independent candidates who will also be on the ballot weren’t included in the poll.) The 7-point gap is wider for Rubio when compared to PPP’s last survey of Florida’s U.S. Senate race a few weeks ago, when it was a virtual toss-up. In a direct head-to-head between Rubio and Murphy, the newest poll found the pair were within the margin of error: Rubio had 47 percent to Murphy’s 44 percent, with 9 percent unsure. The poll results had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. The survey was done Sept. 27-28.

NRA LAUNCHES BENGHAZI ATTACK-AD AGAINST MURPHY IN RACE AGAINST RUBIO via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The National Rifle Association has trained $1 million in TV-ad firepower on Murphy in his bid to unseat Rubio. In a 30-second spot narrated by one of the military contractors who fought off terrorists at the U.S. consulate in Libya, the ad accuses Murphy of “weakness” for supporting Clinton, who was Secretary of State when four Americans were killed at the Benghazi compound in 2012. The ad is airing in three conservative areas loaded with military veterans: Pensacola, Panama City and Jacksonville. The North Florida media markets are also loaded with gun-rights voters. “Islamic terrorists attacked our ambassador’s compound in Benghazi. I was there. My friends didn’t make it,” says Mark “Oz” Geist. The former contractor has narrated other NRA spots and spoke at the Republican National Convention about the attacks. “Hillary Clinton’s state department denied requests for more security,” Geist charges. “Then she lied to protect herself.” At that point, the ad pivots to Murphy and his comments to CBS-4 Miami last year when he said of Clinton: “Hey, Hillary, I don’t think you did anything wrong.” Geist then closes the ad: “Congressman Murphy’s weakness is a threat to your freedom.”

DREAMERS TARGET RUBIO FOR DEFEAT AFTER HE LEFT THEM BEHIND via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Juan Escalante thought Rubio was on the cusp of being a hero to him and thousands of children brought to Florida by undocumented immigrant parents. Now he wants to end the U.S. senator’s political career for good … The desperate voices Rubio once put his political capital on the line for now use words like “traitor,” “backstab” and “betrayal” and are promising to be dedicated foot soldiers to help Democrat Patrick Murphy win election, even though Murphy himself has been too quiet on the topic to their liking. “He abandoned us,” Escalante, now a 27-year-old graduate student at Florida State University, says of Rubio. “We cannot forget that he has backstabbed our community time and time again when it comes to immigration.” Rubio insists that is not true and says his attempts to help were a “good faith effort” that unraveled because of factors out of his control. “We tried to make a difference within the confines of our system,” Rubio said in an interview … “It just didn’t work out. I didn’t have to do it. It’s something I did because I honestly wanted to make a difference and I still do.”

This goes back to early 2012, when Rubio told immigration protesters at a speech in Doral that he believed there could be a bipartisan way to accommodate them. That led Rubio to meet with immigration advocates and start building legislation to protect Dreamers from deportation. “He told me ‘I’m really going to do this,’ and I told him I’d support him,” recalls U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat who is one of the biggest advocates for Dreamers in Congress. “I knew he was serious then.” Escalante said it felt like a major turning point …  as Rubio’s 2016 campaign for the White House grew, the issue disappeared from the Miami Republican’s agenda and he advocated for rescinding Obama’s executive order. This after Rubio worked on more comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 that could have provided a pathway to legalization for Dreamers. (The measure never made it to a vote in the House.)

HAPPENING SATURDAY: Murphy will be on the stump in Sarasota County for his U.S. Senate campaign. The Jupiter Democrat is expected to attend a Venice Area Democratic Club picnic at 5 p.m. in Maxine Barritt Park, Venice.

INDEPENDENT SENATE CANDIDATE SUES TO BE IN DEBATES via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – It’s a long shot bid for Steven Machat, a no-party-affiliation (NPA) candidate who lives in Miami and has raised just $25,000 in a multi-million-dollar Senate race. But, he says, organizers have unfairly blocked him and other NPA candidates from participating in debates between Rubio and Murphy …  “We live in a country that’s become a two-headed, one-party system,” Machat said. “My campaign could go viral in a minute.” Machat’s argument in the lawsuit is this: As a “proper” candidate whose name will appear on the ballot statewide, he “has every right to be heard and debate the issues with the other candidates.” What’s more, he says, voters who identify as independents are a growing group of voters. He wants a federal judge in Florida’s Southern District to issue an injunction blocking any debates that don’t include Machat and other NPA candidates. Machat said he tried to go in and talk to the judge he’s been assigned, Ursula Ungaro. In all, seven candidates will be on the ballot: Rubio, Murphy, Libertarian Paul Stanton and NPA candidates Machat, Basil DalackTony Khoury and Bruce Nathan. To qualify for the election, they had to pay a filing fee of nearly $7,000. But debates are not functions of the government. They are organized between the major candidates and hosted by Leadership Florida and news organizations like Cox Media Group and Politico Florida. Just two are on the calendar: One Oct. 17 and another Oct. 26.

DEMOCRATS MADE GAINS IN VOTER REGISTRATION DURING SUMMER IN FLORIDA via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Since the start of the summer, Democrats have been winning the voter registration battle. Since May until the start of September, Democrats had added 96,000 voters compared to 81,000 for Republicans. The growth in voters with no party affiliation continues to grow. Those voters increased by 82,000 since May, while people registering with other minor political parties grew by 4,000. The Democratic gains come after Republicans dominated the start of the year with the presidential primary season. From January to May, Republicans added 169,000 voters while Democrats added 102,000. The number of no party affiliation voters dropped by nearly 39,000 voters. Voters have until Oct. 11 to register in time to be eligible to vote in November’s general election in Florida.

ST. LEO POLL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR SOLAR AMENDMENT THOUGH VOTERS MAY NOT UNDERSTAND IT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A St. Leo University poll shows strong support for a solar ballot initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot despite a lack of understanding by voters of what it would do. Amendment 1 would provide a right for Florida residents to own solar devices, while prohibiting utility customers from subsidizing those who do. “Despite the lack of knowledge about what the amendment would actually do, it looks poised for success,” Frank Orlando, director of the St. Leo University Polling Institute and a political science instructor, said in a news release. “Support for the amendment continues to climb.” The St. Leo poll found that support for the measure had grown from 77 percent in June to 84 percent in the poll conducted Sept. 10-16. The measure requires 60 percent voter approval to make it into the constitution. The level of support is much higher than a Florida Chamber Political Institute poll released earlier this week indicating 66 percent support for Amendment 1. But that poll did not account for 18 percent of respondents who apparently did not indicate either yes or no, which are the only choices on the Nov. 8 ballot.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Former state Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Bell and State Sen. Jack Latvala, will join the “VOTE NO on 2” campaign at a press conference Friday11 a.m., at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee. They’ll voice their opposition to the Amendment 2 effort to legalize medical marijuana. Look for Latvala to announce the debut of this ad, which he is financing out of his own campaign warchest:

SUPER PAC AD HITS CHARLIE CRIST FOR BEING ‘ULTIMATE CAREER POLITICIAN’ via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – A new ad from a super PAC supporting Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly slams his challenger, former governor Charlie Crist, as a flip-flopping political opportunist. The ad reviews Crist’s “30 years” in the political limelight, recounting his frequent runs for office and his shifting party affiliation. “He’s been Republican, then Independent, then Democrat,” the narrator states. “A Trump supporter, Clinton supporter, flip flopper.” The ad laments that Crist is “running again,” calling it “the same tired act” and concluding that Crist is “the ultimate career politician.”

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REGGIE FULLWOOD PLEADS GUILTY TO WIRE FRAUD via Kent Justice of News 4 Jax – Fullwood pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and failing to file a tax return at a hastily-called hearing Thursday afternoon. Judge Marcia Morales Howard asked Fullwood if he understood that in pleading guilty, he admits to the truth of the charges and waives his rights to a trial. He would lose his right to vote, own a firearm or hold public office. In exchange for his voluntary plea, the government agreed to drop the 12 other counts against Fullwood. He will be allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing, which will happen in about two months. (T)he Florida Secretary of State notifies the head of the state Democratic Party that Fullwood is no longer able to hold office, the party has five days to notify the Duval County Democratic Party, which would convene the party’s executive committee to elect a replacement candidate.

STEVE CRISAFULLI REAX: “While this is a very unfortunate situation Representative Fullwood is now obligated by House Rule to resign from his seat.  I am hopeful that he will do what is right and do so immediately.”

— “Why the smart money is on Tracie Davis to be the HD 13 Democratic nominee” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

KEITH PERRY WON’T BE CHARGED FOR SLAP via Mickie Anderson of the Gainesville Sun – An attorney who reviewed the case, a video and records related to the Sept. 10 incident on behalf of the Seventh Judicial Circuit based in Bunnell, filed a “no information” … meaning officials don’t believe there is enough evidence to move forward with a criminal case. “The alleged victim does not want to pursue the case. Based on the review of witness statements and video evidence, the allegations do not meet the standard for a criminal prosecution,” a memo issued by Assistant State Attorney Christina Opsahl said. Reached shortly after Opsahl’s memo was filed, Perry said he never believed the case warranted criminal charges, though he wishes he had done more to diffuse the situation. He said Gainesville police and the State Attorney’s Office, however, acted inappropriately. He took issue with the police recommending charges to the State Attorney’s Office, as well as police statements that they couldn’t quickly locate Perry. “They should’ve never taken it to the State Attorney,” he said. “The whole thing, in my opinion, was politically motivated.”

FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION PAC ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENTS FOR SENATE & HOUSE INCUMBENT RACES via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The state’s premier trade association announced it endorsement of 32 incumbent candidates who have one major party election opponent running against them: SENATE CANDIDATES: Rene GarciaTravis HutsonJoe NegronKelli Stargel. HOUSE CANDIDATES: Larry AhernBen AlbrittonBryan AvilaMichael BilecaColleen BurtonMatt CaldwellNeil CombeeBob CortesManny DiazJose Felix DiazBrad DrakeTom GoodsonBlaise IngogliaClay IngramMike LaRosaChris LatvalaMaryLynn MagarMike MillerGeorge MoraitisJeanette NunezJose OlivaKathleen PetersElizabeth PorterHolly RascheinDan RaulersonPaul RennerRoss SpanoChris Sprowls.



HAPPENING TONIGHTGary Farmer hosts a fundraiser for his Senate District 34 campaign, beginning 5 p.m. at the Betton Hills home of Reggie and Kim Garcia, 2102 W. Randolph Cir. in Tallahassee. RSVP with [email protected].

FRED MARRA TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN IN HD 29 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Marra confirmed in a text that he was doing so “until we can sort things out,” but would not elaborate. He said he has not dropped out. He said he would release more information about his status and the reasons behind it soon. Marra was challenging incumbent Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon in the Altamonte Springs-based district that had flipped between Republicans and Democrats in each of the past two elections, though its voter base is more Republican. “This campaign has never been about me, but about Plakon’s voting for fracking, against Medicaid expansion and other issues facing Florida,” Marra wrote … Marra had done very little fundraising and almost no campaigning until recently, and so had, at any rate, an uphill battle to take on Plakon, who had served two terms, lost a re-election bid, switched districts, then won and served a third term. Plakon’s campaign has almost $50,000 and Marra’s less than $1,000 in the latest reports.

IVETTE GONZALEZ PETKOVICH CHALLENGES MANNY DIAZ JR. TO DEBATE IN MIAMI-DADE HOUSE RACE via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Gonzalez Petkovich sent a letter to Diaz this week, challenging him to a “series of open debates to ensure that the people of District 103 have a full opportunity to hear our viewpoints and understand the real differences in our visions for the future of this state” … Gonzalez Petkovich’s campaign said the only scheduled debate is supposed to be Friday night but Diaz declined the invitation. “His actions subvert the intent of having an informed electorate and hurts his constituents’ abilities to know where he stands on the issues when voters go the polls on Election Day,” her campaign said Thursday evening, when announcing Gonzalez Petkovich’s challenge to Diaz. Gonzalez Petkovich — an attorney who lives in a part of Doral that lies just outside District 103 — is making her first bid for public office. Diaz, of Hialeah, is seeking re-election to a third term in the Florida House and could be among House leadership, if he’s re-elected. District 103 is heavily Hispanic with a moderate voting bloc. The district includes parts of Hialeah, Miramar, Doral, Miami Lakes, Medley and Hialeah Gardens.


Beth Tuura, running for Florida house district 47, has been endorsed by Henry Lim, her former opponent

JAMES E. BILLIE OUSTED AS HEAD OF STATE’S SEMINOLE TRIBE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Billie was ousted in a 4-0 vote of the tribe’s governing council … citing “various issues with policies and procedures of the chairman’s office” … a special election will be held in the next month to elect a new chairman for the Hollywood-based tribe, “which operates a business empire that began with the sale of tax-free cigarettes in the 1970s and expanded to include hotels, citrus groves, tourist attractions, and Seminole Hard Rock casinos throughout South Florida.” A federal trial is set to begin Monday in Tallahassee in a dispute over whether the Seminoles’ casinos can continue to have blackjack tables, including at its casinos located in Tampa and in South Florida. The U.S. Supreme Court already dealt a financial blow to the tribe, declining to consider a lower-court decision that it has to pay tax on its electric and other utility bills. But the outcome of next week’s trial could determine the future of the tribe’s finances … card games generate just under 20 percent of the tribe’s total gambling revenue, which is up to $1 billion yearly just at the Tampa location. A portion of a five-year gambling deal with the state expired last year. It granted the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack in return for revenue sharing with the state.

FAMU BOARD APPROVES CONTRACT WITH INTERIM PRESIDENT via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – Florida A&M University interim president Larry Robinson will make $385,000 annually under a one-year contract approved by the board of trustees … Other provisions include: $3,500 housing allowance. Robinson will continue to reside in his family home off-campus. $1,200 car allowance. Six-month sabbatical at the end of his tenure as interim president. After that, Robinson will be eligible to return to the FAMU faculty at his current salary of $203,000. He previously served as a distinguished professor in the FAMU School of the Environment. The housing and car stipends are similar to provisions in Robinson’s contract the last time he served as interim president. Then, his base salary was $325,000 a year. Trustees said the current salary was based on an analysis of other state universities with similar enrollments. Meanwhile, ousted President Elmira Mangum still has not signed her separation agreement with the university. Board members expressed frustration that Mangum has not made her administrative leave official but will not take any action unless she does not sign the agreement by the end of a 21-day window Oct. 6.

PERSONNEL NOTE: THE ABLE TRUST BEEFS UP LOBBYING STABLE via Florida Politics –Karen Moore, chair of the Trust’s Board of Directors, confirmed Thursday that Matt Bryan, Andrea Reilly and Woody Simmons will be the organization’s newest contract lobbyists. They will be working under the direction of the Able Trust’s senior contract lobbyist, Mike Cusick, according to Moore, founder and CEO of Tallahassee’s Moore Communications Group. Bryan and Reilly are with Smith, Bryan & Myers, a governmental relations firm also in Tallahassee. Simmons retired last year as Verizon Communications’ longtime lobbyist in Florida. He was a close advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The Able Trust was created by the Florida Legislature in 1990, under the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, as a non-profit public-private partnership. It helps Floridians with disabilities find successful employment.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Tracy Duda Chapman, Jason Gonzalez, Chris Schoonover, and Vito Sheeley.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog 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.


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