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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.30.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

It’s two days after the Election, and you’re sick to your stomach with politics. Here are five easy steps you can help you move past your political hangover.

Clean up your Google Alerts. There’s no longer a need to get an email every time the words “Philip Levine” or “Adam Putnam” show up online. Plus, you’re gonna need room for new alerts, such as when “Andrew Gillum” shows up somewhere.

Stop following losing candidates on Twitter. With social media, I have always thought less is more. Scroll through the lists of who you are following and who is following you and just keep clicking “Unfollow.”

Take down the yard signs. Today. Don’t leave them up as a “F — you” to the neighbor who supported the other guy. While you are at it, take any political signs you see in right-of-ways or vacant properties.

Unsubscribe from every campaign email lists. Otherwise, you’ll be getting messages from these folks — and the folks they sell their list to — for years to come.

Unlike Facebook pages of losing candidates. Again, do whatever you can do to declutter your social network.

We hope you feel better soon.

***Programming note: Sunburn will be taking Friday to recuperate from primary elections. It will be back in mailboxes on Tuesday, September 4.*** 

— WHO ARE THE REAL WINNERS AND LOSERS? —

What a difference four years makes. The last time Florida saw a primary was pre-Trump Time — and pre-Bernie Time too. But the shadows of both President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders loomed large over the selection of GOP nominee for Governor Ron DeSantis and Democratic pick Andrew Gillum. Count them all in this year’s 2018 Primary Election Winners and Losers list. We’re asking for your ideas on who else should be considered a hero, and who gets named a goat. Send your suggestions by noon to peter@floridapolitics.com.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: Not only did Congressman Ron DeSantis easily win the Republican Primary, but his opponent in November is his biggest dream … a failed Socialist Mayor named Andrew Gillum who has allowed crime & many other problems to flourish in his city. This is not what Florida wants or needs!

—@ChuckGrassley: @realDonaldTrump I hope it’s not true McGahn is leaving WhiteHouse Counsel. U can’t let that happen.

@MarcoRubio: Canceling August recess resulted in the most productive Senate work period in recent memory. Today alone we confirmed seven more judges & 27 executive branch nominees (including a U.S. Attorney & 2 U.S. Marshalls from #Florida). Next week we will confirm another 8 judges.

@BFGPollara: My fellow Democrats engaging in post-primary hand-wringing should STFU & remember: The 2 Democrats that have won statewide in the last decade are 1. @SenBillNelson 2. A charismatic young black guy who fired up the base & delivered amazing speeches We’re in good shape, folks

@AnaNavarro: As a Floridian, it was my hope this Governor’s race would be about the pressing issues facing our state -rising tides, algae outbreak, trade, economy, jobs. I had hoped it would not be one were racism was front and center. That hope lasted all of 10 hours

—@JoeNBC: It’s Not a Dog Whistle. It’s a Screaming 80 Foot, Flashing Neon Sign re: DeSantis’ “monkey” comment

@TroyKinsey: Here’s a stat to write home about: in the last 24 hours, @AndrewGillum has almost doubled his Twitter following, to 155k. He’s now 40k followers short of @FLGovScott’s following (one that’s taken Scott eight years to build).

—@Fineout: On top of everything else: @RonDeSantisFL & @AndrewGillum have until 5 p.m. on Sept. 6 to turn in the qualifying paperwork for a lieutenant governor nominee. “Failure” of LG candidate to qualify will result “in forfeiture of ballot position for the candidate of governor.”

@MarcACaputo: One similarity between @AndrewGillum and @RonDeSantisFL: both loved the old school Miami Hurricanes. I know this is going to be a tough campaign. But we need to praise these two men for showing true taste and leadership

@APantazi: How bad did Adam Putnam do? In Miami-Dade, he barely beat the also-rans. They collectively had more than 14 percent. He had just below 18 percent.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Labor Day — 4; Gubernatorial candidates must choose a running mate — 7; NFL regular season starts — 7; First general election mail ballots go out — 23; First day of fall — 23; Future of Florida Forum — 27; FSU vs. UM football game — 37; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 54; MLB World Series begins — 54; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 55; Halloween — 62; General Election Day — 68; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 82; Thanksgiving — 84; Black Friday — 85; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 89; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 166; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 188; 2020 General Election — 796.

— HOT TAKE —

Water mattered Tuesday, but not in the way clean water activist groups wanted” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — All Floridians deserve access to clean water. But groups like Bullsugar, which has been accused of stirring up trouble online instead of focusing on solutions to these crises, may have done Floridians a disservice by politicizing the issue to the point where the focus has been put on blame and not the actual problem itself. The group’s record at the polls Tuesday was checkered, with some of its most high-profile candidates going down in flames. For example, Bullsugar went all in for Chris King for Governor. But King, who was the most anti-sugar candidate in the 2018 field, received less than 3 percent of the vote. Their endorsed candidate for Governor didn’t win a single Florida county — in fact, he didn’t finish higher than fifth in any Florida county. Bullsugar made it a point to state plainly: “We did not favor Gillum in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. He was the weakest.” Well, Gillum won in spectacular fashion.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

League of Conservation Voters names Rick Scott one of 2018’s ‘Dirty Dozen’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “Scott’s pro-polluter record makes him the ideal first candidate for the 2018 Dirty Dozen,” said Pete Maysmith, LCV Victory Fund Senior vice president for Campaigns. The LCV Victory Fund for 20 years has targeted state and federal candidates who “consistently side against the environment” and whom PAC leaders feel they can help defeat. The group boasts that in 2016, four of the federal candidates lumped into that election cycle’s “Dirty Dozen” lost at the polls, including Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who lost to Democrat Charlie Crist. Additionally, nine of 16 state-level candidates targeted by the group went down in defeat. “Scott’s election-year environmentalism isn’t fooling anyone,” said Maysmith. “From censoring climate science to cutting millions from water management and mishandling the current toxic algae crisis, Floridians know that Scott puts Big Oil ahead of their communities every single time.”

Mr. Small Business: Gov. Rick Scott held a “Let’s Get to Work” rally at Sorensen Moving & Storage in Melbourne to highlight Florida’s “economic turnaround.”

Beach access battle, algae blooms may have cost Scott votes” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott crushed his little-known opponent, Roque (Rocky) de la Fuente, a wealthy California businessman, with nearly 89 percent of the vote. But a closer look at county-by-county results strongly suggests that Republicans in two counties sent Scott a message of disapproval over his handling of two highly controversial issues: access to Florida beaches and toxic algae blooms in Florida waterways. Hopelessly overmatched, de la Fuente had no visible signs of a campaign and got 11 percent of the vote. But he did much better in two counties: Walton in the Panhandle and Martin on the Treasure Coast. De la Fuente got 20.5 percent of the vote in Walton and 20 percent of the vote in Martin, almost twice his statewide average. The popular beach communities of Walton County have been ground zero in the beach access debate, which has deeply divided beachgoers and tourists against private property rights advocates.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will visit Moffitt Cancer Center to highlight $300 million in funding since 2014 for research and treatment, 10:30 a.m., 12902 USF Magnolia Dr., Tampa.

— DAY ONE —

Shot: “Ron DeSantis: Don’t ‘monkey this up’ by electing Andrew Gillum” via Florida Politics — DeSantis put a “monkey” on his back, making what opponents are calling a racist comment about Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum on Fox News Monday morning. “To make sure that we continue Florida going in a good direction, let’s build off the success we’ve had (with) Gov. Scott,” said DeSantis, a Congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach. “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases, and bankrupting the state. That’s not going to work; that’s not going to be good for Florida.” DeSantis is white; Gillum is black. Comparing African Americans to apes or monkeys usually is considered disparaging.

Chaser: “FOX News on DeSantis’ ‘monkey’ comment: ‘We do not condone this language’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — FOX News announced that Gillum would appear on the network later Wednesday as it distanced itself from a controversial statement made by Republican candidate DeSantis on an earlier program. After that appearance, host Sandra Smith did a follow-up segment on “America’s Newsroom.” “A little while ago we had Ron DeSantis … on for an interview to discuss the Florida election,” she said. “During the interview, he made what some are calling an inappropriate comment about his Democratic opponent” … Smith went on, “We do not condone this language and wanted to make our viewers aware that he has since clarified his statement.”

Chaser 2: “Sean Shaw: DeSantis ‘monkey’ comment ‘was racist and offensive’ via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics Shaw, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, on Wednesday added his voice to those condemning GOP gubernatorial hopeful and congressman DeSantis … “The remark made by Congressman DeSantis was racist and offensive and has no place in our political discourse,” said Shaw, an African American, in a statement. “We already have a president that uses divisive and hostile language, and we do not need Ron DeSantis trying to import that from Washington to Tallahassee,” he added. “Racism is cancer that must be weeded out. DeSantis should step aside if he cannot find a way to apologize and control the language that comes out of his mouth.”

To view the FOX interview, click on the image below (“monkey” comment is at the 3:20 mark):

Gillum responds to ‘monkey this up’: ‘I’m going to try to stay high’” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — “I think he’s got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today’s day and age Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division,” Gillum said. “They’re sick of it.” The comment from DeSantis came on Fox News in one of his first interviews after winning the Republican primary. DeSantis also called Gillum an “articulate spokesman” for the far-left. Gillum is the first black nominee for governor from a major party. Both statements drew immediate condemnation from Democrats as racist. But Fox News also swiftly distanced itself from DeSantis’ remark. “We do not condone this language,” Fox News’ Sandra Smith said on air shortly after DeSantis spoke.

DeSantis moderates hate-filled Facebook group that attacks African-Americans, Parkland survivors and Muslims” via Chad Smith of American Ledger — DeSantis was listed as one of the group’s 52 administrators and moderators … The Facebook group, simply named Tea Party, has nearly 95,000 members, and users must join the group to post or comment. The banner for the group is an image of the Confederate, Christian and Gadsden flags flying alongside the flags of the U.S. and Israel. (It isn’t affiliated with the conservative group Tea Party Patriots.) Members of the group have attacked Black Lives Matter and other African-Americans as “ghetto scum” and ridiculed the teenage survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Posters have referred to Douglas students David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez as a “Hitler wannabe” and a “baldheaded brat,” respectively, after they became outspoken activists for gun control in the wake of the shooting, during which a former student allegedly shot and killed 17 people.

Bernie Sanders to supporters in fundraising pitch: ‘You are going to love Gillum’” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Sanders emailed a fundraising pitch to his army of liberal supporters, offering to split their donations with Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who claimed the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in an upset … “No one thought he had a chance — not just at the start of the campaign, but as recently as a few weeks ago,” Sanders said in the email. “You are going to love Andrew Gillum.” Although two billionaire mega-donors backed him, Gillum struggled to fundraise throughout the Democratic primary race. Sanders’ pitch may signal that the floodgates are opening as Democratic donors contemplate Ron DeSantis, Gillum’s general election opponent, in the governor’s mansion.


— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 — 

’The Enola Gay has left the tarmac’: The coming GOP war against Gillum” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — As Gillum accepted the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in a packed banquet room at Hotel Duval, stories about the FBI’s public corruption investigation began spiking on Tallahassee.com. Gillum has never been directly implicated in the probe … But that’s not going to stop the Republican machine from tying him as closely as it can to the FBI story and the city’s crime rate. Nor will it slow a coming onslaught of attack ads against Gillum, who managed to avoid them entirely during the primary campaign. The Republican Governors Association wasted no time in claiming Gillum is the focus of the FBI’s investigation. Gillum last year said he spoke with the FBI and was cooperating with the bureau. He also said the FBI told him he was not the focus of the probe. The FBI, which typically keeps quiet about its investigations, has never publicly confirmed that.

The battle begins: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum accepts the nomination of the Democratic party to run for the Governor of Florida during his victory party at the Hotel Duval in Tallahassee. (Image via Mark Wallheiser)

5 things to know about Gillum” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — 1. Gillum is young, but politically experienced. 2. Gillum ran a staunchly progressive campaign for governor. 3. Gillum called for Trump’s impeachment — nine months ago. 4. Gillum is about to face major attacks for the first time this cycle. 5. Gillum’s city government is the subject of an FBI investigation — but it’s unclear whether he’s directly implicated.

—“In Gillum vs. DeSantis, anything can happen” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

—“’One of the most brutal races in the country’ has just begun in Florida” via Russell Berman of The Atlantic

Gillum wins Florida primary with big margins in four counties with most black voters” via Ana Ceballos and Janie Haseman of the Naples Daily News — That strategy was ingrained in the primary campaign for Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor and now the state’s first major party black gubernatorial nominee. While fiercely pushing a progressive message that turned out base voters, Gillum had to overcome a crowded primary field that included more-established and better-funded white candidates, a dynamic not lost on the campaign or outside observers. Gillum won huge margins over the onetime front-runner, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, in Duval, Orange, Broward and Miami-Dade counties — the metro counties with the state’s largest percentage of black voters, according to a USA TODAY NETWORK — Florida analysis of Tuesday’s election results.

FJA meeting Gillum, $100K checks in hand, in Orlando” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida —The Florida Justice Association, which represents state trial lawyers, is set to come in heavy for Gillum …  Some of the firms that make up FJA’s top members are meeting with Gillum in Orlando to give him up to 10 $100,000 checks. This would be a huge cash infusion for the candidate, who raised just $7 million during his entire primary campaign — the least of any candidate in the five-person Democratic primary. Fred Cunningham, an attorney with Domnick Cunningham & Whalen and a trustee on FJA’s political committee, said he will be at the meeting. His firm gave $50,000 to a political committee tied to former Miami Beach Mayor Levine, but he says after the primary is the time to come together.

Adam Putnam popular in rural areas but lost big elsewhere” via the News Service of Florida — Putnam did well in rural Florida. But DeSantis swamped Putnam in more heavily populated areas and wound up winning the race by about 20 percentage points. In all, Putnam won 27 counties, including only one large urban county — Hillsborough. Putnam also won in his home Polk County and Leon County, where he is well known. But all of the other counties where he won were relatively rural: Bradford, Calhoun, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Okeechobee, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Washington. DeSantis, by contrast, won by large margins in the urban counties of Broward, Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and Pinellas.

Scoop #1 – Top Richard Corcoran consultant moves to DeSantis campaignJames Blair, a top Corcoran consultant and chairman of the House Speaker’s Watchdog PAC, is now serving as an adviser for direct voter contact programs for DeSantis, the newly minted Republican candidate for Florida Governor.

Scoop #2 – Stephanie McClung, the former finance director and deputy campaign manager for Orlando Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King, began working Wednesday as the senior financial adviser for the campaign of Democratic Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Nikki Fried, joining finance team members Brian Goldmeier and Pamela Anez. McClung brings with her a saddlebag filled with fundraising relationships fostered from former work for high profile politicians and groups. She was a deputy finance director for former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, and for Crist’s successful 2016 congressional campaign. She also has served as finance director at Ruth’s List Florida. “We’re very happy to have Stephanie join the team,” said senior campaign strategist Ben Pollara. “We’re confident the team we have is the one that’s going to win in November.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 3 —

Stephanie Murphy launches her first commercial of general election” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics —In her 30-second spot, “Working”, Murphy briefly mentions her backgrounds as a former businesswoman, educator, and national security specialist, and adds that she also has, “run this place too,” as the video shows her at home with her husband and children. “Through it all, no one cared if you were a Republican or Democrat,” she declares. “You just focused on getting the job done.” Murphy then stresses her record in Congress, mentioning, without any specific detail, bipartisan efforts she pursued for laws for such causes as improving veterans care, making communities safer, and investing in Florida’s schools.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Happening today —  Former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy is heading to Tampa Thursday night for a fundraising reception benefiting her run for Pasco and Pinellas-based Senate District 16. The event will be held at Mise en Place, 442 W Kennedy Blvd. #110, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The invite lists a suggested minimum contribution of $100, though notes that any donation is welcome.

Few legislative primaries offer close races” via the News Service of Florida — Only four House races were decided by less than 4 percentage points — and none of the Senate races were that close. The closest primary was in House District 26, where Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff received 5,683 votes, or 50.27 percent, while her GOP primary opponent, Michael Cantu, received 5,623 votes, or 49.73 percent … The next-closest race was House District 84, where Republican Mark Gotz received 5,788 votes, or 51.16 percent, while his primary opponent, Teri Pinney, received 5,526 votes, or 48.84 percent. Meanwhile, in House District 1, Republican Mike Hill received 9,003 votes, or 48.09 percent, while runner-up Rebekah Bydlak received 8,460, or 45.19 percent. A third candidate in the GOP primary, Lisa Doss, received 1,257 votes, or 6.71 percent. In House District 105 … Democrat Javier Estevez received 2,666 votes, or 51.64 percent, while primary opponent Ross Hancock received 2,497 votes, or 48.36 percent.

Happening today: “Florida Senate Republicans to raise cash at the U.S. Open” via Florida Politics — According to an invitation from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the main committee supporting GOP state Senate campaigns, donors will get to attend a “VIP Dinner” at Quality Italian before catching Day Four of the hard court tennis tournament … donors will also get a private tennis lesson with Nick Bollettieri, the Hall Of Fame tennis coach who developed tennis legends Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and others.

Sam Killebrew, Michael Grant plan 2020 re-election bids” via the News Service of Florida — Killebrew, a Winter Haven Republican, opened a campaign account to run again in Polk County’s House District 41 … Killebrew was first elected to the seat in 2016. Similarly, Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, opened a campaign account to run again in 2020 in Charlotte County’s House District 75. Grant was elected to the seat in 2016 after serving an earlier stint in the House from 2004 to 2008.

Does Florida need school board term limits?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the three parts of proposed Amendment 8 to the Florida constitution would limit school board members to two consecutive terms. Tuesday’s election results allow voters to consider whether that’s really necessary. On the one hand, Pasco County board member Allen Altman walked into a fourth term. Palm Beach County board member won a sixth. All Sarasota County incumbents easily grabbed reelection, even despite that board’s well-publicized feuding. On the other, the chairmen of the Hernando and Hillsborough school boards lost outright. A Martin County board member and wife of influential Senate President Joe Negron lost. A Manatee County board member appointed by Gov. Scott lost. The variety of results left Florida School Boards Association executive director Andrea Messina certain that term limits aren’t needed. “I think voters are smart enough to keep elected officials that they believe are serving them well, and, whether true or not, if they see someone who needs to be replaced, voters are willing to replace them,” Messina said. Tuesday offers an “absolute example of why in school board races, as we have said, it’s not necessary.”

High court hears argument on dog racing ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court will now consider whether general election voters will get to see a constitutional amendment ending live greyhound racing. Lawyers for the state and the Florida Greyhound Association gave argument Wednesday before the state’s seven justices. As usual, the court offered no clue when it might rule. The association challenged the amendment, saying its ballot title and summary would mislead voters. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers already has agreed in a harshly-worded ruling, striking the measure earlier this month and calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’ ” She said Amendment 13’s title and summary were “clearly and conclusively defective” … Deputy Solicitor General Jordan Pratt defended the amendment. He told the court all the title and summary have to do is “make clear the chief legal effect of the amendment,” which they do.

— DO TREAD ON ME —

The top of the ticket saturated the news, but some counties made significant changes at the local level Tuesday night.

Voters in six counties OK’d local tax increases or extensions during the primary. Among them: Lake, Clay, Monroe, Broward, Bay and Orange counties. 

In part, these changes will help offset school security costs. That was the case for Monroe County, reports WLRN. In Broward, about $18.6 million will go toward hiring more school officers, reports the Sun Sentinel.

In Clay and Lake: Both tax increases were proposed after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and the following state mandate that school officers be present at every facility. In Clay, the referendum went to the ballot after “much debate” from the district, reports News4Jax. In Lake, school board members had unanimously moved the item to the ballot, reports the Daily Commercial. 

In Bay: The continuation of a half-cent surcharge will now help cover security upgrades at schools, reports the Panama City News Herald. 

In Orange: Voters extended a special property tax “to help pay for teacher raises and to maintain academic, arts and sports programs at the county’s nearly 200 public schools,” reports the Orlando Sentinel. 

— STATEWIDE —

Ex-congresswoman’s case to be heard by appeals court” via the News Service of Florida — A federal appeals court is expected to hear arguments in December in a challenge filed by former Congresswoman Corrine Brown after she was convicted on felony charges in a charity scam. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week said oral arguments are needed in the case and tentatively scheduled them for the week of Dec. 10 in Atlanta … Brown appealed to the Atlanta-based court after she was convicted last year on 18 felony counts and sentenced to five years in prison … Brown was convicted on fraud and tax charges related to her role in using contributions to the One Door for Education charity for personal expenses and events. But in the appeal, Brown contends that a juror was improperly dismissed from her trial.

Corrine Brown gets another day in court.

Highly toxic blue-green algae at dam where Lake O waters enter St. Lucie River” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — A bloom immediately upstream of the dam sampled Aug. 23 contained the toxin microcystin at a level of 495.06 parts per billion, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported … The World Health Organization considers levels of microcystin above 10 parts per billion hazardous in recreational contact. It’s the highest toxicity level reported since blue-green algae blooms were first seen June 4 in the C-44 Canal leading to the river, four days after Lake O discharges. Microcystin can cause nausea and vomiting if ingested, rashes and hay fever symptoms if touched or inhaled. Drinking water with the toxin can cause long-term liver disease.

Red tide activity increasing in Pinellas, decreasing in southern counties” via WFTS — High concentrations of red tide were observed offshore of Pinellas County in the new FWC red tide status report. However, parts of Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties showed decreased cell concentrations, indicating it may be moving north. The high concentrations were observed 10 miles offshore of Pinellas County, the first ‘high’ concentration observation FWC has reported in the area. Reports of fish kills were received for multiple locations in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. Respiratory irritation was also reported over the past week in those counties.

PSC open to lifting cap on utilities’ ‘economic development’ charges via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Public Service Commission agreed Wednesday to consider allowing three major electric utilities to boost the “economic development” fees they’re allowed to collect from customers by millions of dollars. The change would allow Florida Power & Light Co. to collect as much as $26.7 million annually by 2023. Tampa Electric Co. would collect $4.9 million, and Gulf Power Co. $3.8 million. The utilities insist those sums would add only marginally to individual customers’ bills — 24 cents per 1,000-kilowatt hours for FPL; 14 cents for Gulf Power, and 10 cents for Tampa Electric. The Office of Public Counsel, which represents ratepayers before the PSC, protested that the proposed rule revision seemed to have been fast-tracked. “We’re not opposing this,” Associate Public Counsel Charles Rehwinkle said. “We think there could be merit to what the petitioners are asking for. We’re just asking that this process not be rushed along.”

Florida Supreme Court to review suit over Miami Beach minimum wage” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to review a case over whether the city of Miami Beach is permitted to pass its own local minimum wage ordinance, in seeming conflict with state law. The Miami Beach City Commission passed an ordinance in 2016 that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $13.31 per hour by 2021. At the time, the number sat at $8.05, which was then the state’s minimum wage. For Miami Beach residents, that number was scheduled to steadily rise each year until reaching the $13.31 mark. But the ordinance was challenged and subsequently struck down by a series of lower court decisions last year. That led the city to appeal to Florida’s highest court, which has now agreed to hear the case.

Brightline gets approval for $1.15 billion in tax-free bonds for expansion to Orlando” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm — The Florida Development Finance Corp. unanimously approved the private-activity bonds, over the objections of numerous Treasure Coast officials who attended the meeting to protest the controversial funding. It’s the second time the state board approved bonds for the West Palm Beach-Orlando segment. The agency first approved $1.75 billion of bonds in August 2015, but the railroad canceled that request and instead sought separate approvals for $600 million for phase 1 and the $1.15 billion approved today for phase 2.

What Jeff Sharkey is reading: “Nevada marijuana sales blow away projections in first year” via the Las Vegas Review-Journal — Nevada dispensaries sold nearly $425 million worth of recreational marijuana and pulled in nearly $70 million in tax revenue in the state’s first full year of sales, officials announced. Including recreational and medical marijuana as well as marijuana-related goods and accessories, Nevada stores eclipsed a half-billion dollars in sales, just under $530 million, according to figures released by the Nevada Department of Taxation. That dwarfs first-year sales seen in other states and significantly outpaced Nevada’s own projections for the budding industry. Bill Anderson, executive director of the Tax Department, said that the industry “has not only exceeded revenue expectations, but (has) proven to be a largely successful one from a regulatory standpoint.”

—  D.C. MATTERS —

Reform and flexibility in Marco Rubio’s paid-parental-leave bill” via Michael Strain of the National Review — Rubio has a paid-parental-leave bill that would allow parents to collect Social Security benefits following the arrival of a new child. In exchange, new parents who take the early benefits would delay receiving Social Security payments by several months when they reach normal retirement age, decades later. This is a bad idea for several reasons. Our focus should be on reducing projected Social Security spending, not redirecting it. Social Security is underfunded, so allowing people to borrow from future benefits is deeply problematic. This is especially true given the senator’s insistence that the policy wouldn’t increase taxes or federal spending. And this policy would burden employers by increasing the number of workers who take long periods of time off work following the arrival of a new child. This burden would likely make it harder for less-educated women of child-bearing age to find a job.

— OPINIONS —

Ernest Hooper: Gillum’s win may be payback for put-down of progressives in presidential race” via the Tampa Bay Times — He can command a crowd and engage a live audience like no other candidate running for office in Florida this year — and I mean in every race. But I see some other factors. I think Gillum’s success also relates directly to the 2016 presidential election, and not just because Sanders provided a lift to Gillum in a pair of big rallies … Progressives are no longer willing to buy into polls and forecasts predicting doom for the candidate who best represents their values. Every Gillum supporter I spoke to leading up to Tuesday argued they would stick with the guy they truly believed in. The path for DeSantis, however, may be more difficult than what Gillum must pursue. If the GOP nominee goes all in on his Trumpocracy brand with no appeal to the center, it could be trouble.

DeSantis and Gillum must make the campaign for Florida governor about more than Donald Trump” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In the race for Florida Governor, no matter the party, voters made clear that they were tired of the establishment candidates, among them, a former congresswoman and daughter of a still-popular past governor and an agriculture secretary who seems to have had the Governor’s office in his sights since birth. Voters rejected the usual suspects and threw their support behind the unusual ones … in the gubernatorial primaries, voters went rogue. But the governor’s race can’t be “all Trump, all the time.” Floridians need a Florida-focused leader, and they should demand that DeSantis and Gillum make clear their visions for confronting the challenges they face: the quest for quality education; for affordable health care, for action to combat sea-level rise; for a replenished Everglades.

Gillum’s victory in Florida primary seismic for Tallahassee” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — It IS a big deal. Not just because of the attention that will be focused on our dear city. And not just because Gillum will have a shot at being Florida’s first African-American Governor. But because the way he did it will be studied and dissected for years to come. Regardless of what you think of Gillum’s policies or even his persona, only a fool would doubt this: He ran an amazing, stupendous and wise campaign. He was outspent by enough money to buy a pro sports franchise. He was fighting the name recognition battle from Day 1. He ran hard to the left in a purple state. And did we mention he was outspent? Didn’t matter.

Joe Henderson: DeSantis ‘monkey’ comment naive at best, racist at worst” via Florida Politics — If DeSantis didn’t believe it would be seen as racist when he said of the state’s economy we shouldn’t “monkey it up” by electing Gillum as Florida’s next Governor, then he is incredibly naive. However, if this Trump Mini-Me was sending a signal to remind his less, um … tolerant supporters that Gillum is, indeed, one election win away from becoming Florida’s first black Governor, then he might as well have announced to the world that he is a racist. He will deny all that vigorously, of course, but I don’t believe there is any other way to interpret the astonishing interview DeSantis gave on Fox News. Instead of just taking a victory lap after his blowout win over Adam Putnam (what must he be feeling right now?) in the GOP Primary, DeSantis took that moment in the national spotlight to utter a phrase that is incredibly offensive to blacks. What a coincidence that the first time I heard that combination of words was is in reference to a black man running as the Democratic nominee for Governor.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Matt Brackett to the Florida Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers; Lena Lofton (reappointed), Joseph Chancy and Michael Childs to the Columbia County Housing Authority; Dr. Stephen NelsonRobin Giddens SheppardCarol Whitmore (all reappointed) and Charlie Cofer to the Medical Examiners Commission.

1st DCA nominating panel gets new leadership — The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) for the 1st District Court of Appeal (DCA) elected a new chair and vice-chair on Wednesday. Gary Rutledge, name partner of Tallahassee’s Rutledge Ecenia law firm, is now chair and Richard Doran of Tallahassee’s Ausley & McMullen firm is vice-chair, according to outgoing chair Christa Calamas, a staff director for the Florida House of Representatives. The commissions, each having nine members made up of lawyers and non-lawyers, hold great sway over who becomes a judge in Florida. When a judicial vacancy occurs that must be filled by appointment, a JNC “submit(s) three to six names of the most highly qualified applicants to the governor, who must make a final selection from the list,” according to The Florida Bar. The 1st DCA, headquartered in Tallahassee, handles most legal challenges related to state agencies and legislative decision making.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: Florida Retail Federation

Rob Fields, Capitol Agility: The Presidio Corporation

Jason Harrell: Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers

JeffKottkamp, Sunshine State Consultants: 4QTRS Holdings

Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: Informa USA

Alan Williams, Meenan: Florida Fire Sprinkler Association

— ALOE — 

875 pounds of fish, 54 dozen eggs and a kombucha machine: a week feeding an NFL team” via Sam Fortier and Samantha Pell of The Washington Post — Jake Sankal, an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Washington Redskins who doubles as the team’s director of sports nutrition, an increasingly prevalent position in the NFL, works with chef Connor McGuire to pick out menu options for the week. It’s just one of Sankal’s tasks when it comes to completing his main objective: feeding an entire NFL team while keeping the players in top shape before and throughout the season. “What we try to do more than just being the food police is provide them healthy options,” Sankal said. “We focus a ton on quality food here. That’s really the biggest thing we do. And then we try to educate them.” Sankal’s job consists of constantly thinking about hydration levels, snacks, proteins, carbohydrates, body composition and meal prep — all of which are part of the dietitian revolution sweeping college and professional football.

Washington Redskins Team Dietitian Jake Sankal works with chefs to create the ideal diet for recovery after exercise. (Image via Redskins)

What Michelle Todd is reading — “St. Petersburg’s $1-million Pier playground to be ‘one of a kind’” via Waveney Ann Moore of the Tampa Bay Times — The more than 12,000-square-foot amenity will feature wood and other natural materials and children will clamber onto make-believe aquatic animals and a whimsical interpretation of the Benoist airboat flown by legendary pilot Tony Jannus. It’ll all be set amid a colorful expanse meant to mimic ocean and seashore. “This is a state-of-the-art playground with all kinds of unique concepts, and it is something that families and children are going to want to come to on a regular basis,” promised Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator. The play area will be in keeping with the city’s goal of creating destination-worthy elements for the 26-acre Pier District. It’s part of “making sure (St. Petersburg) is one of the best destinations in the country,” he added.

Happy birthday to Tampa City Councilmember Yolie Capin.

Written By

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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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