Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.13.18
cabin on the beach, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

cabin on the beach, Miami Beach, Florida, USA

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

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

If the numerous polls since the primary elections weren’t enough of a clue, a new measure from the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows the gubernatorial race between Ponte Vedra Republican Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee Democrat Andrew Gillum is a dead heat, with Gillum holding an inside-the-margin-of-error edge.

The Florida Chamber interviewed 514 Florida voters — 210 Democrats, 205 Republicans and 99 others — and found that Gillum led DeSantis 47-43 percent with 8 percent undecided and 2 percent preferring “someone else” from the five unaffiliated or write-in candidates who qualified for the election.

“Politically speaking, this is an interesting poll because most voters have learned a little about Ron DeSantis, yet most voters don’t know Andrew Gillum because he is a surprise winner and the most liberal of the Democrats on the ballot that ran in the primary election,” said Marian Johnson, the Florida Chamber’s senior VP of political strategy.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if Gillum, who is backing policies by Bill Nelson, yet supported by Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and George Soros will hold onto this lead while voters begin to understand his background and policies, or if Ron DeSantis and his policies will continue gaining popularity and propel him to succeed Governor [Rick] Scott as Florida’s next Governor. The election is more than 50 days away, and that’s a lifetime in Florida politics.”

That’s indeed a lifetime, and one unaccounted for factor is whether DeSantis, who kicked off his general election bid with what some saw as a racist “dog whistle,” can avoid the kind of racially charged gaffes that turn off the less rabid of those inclined to support a GOP nominee for Governor — his appearances as a speaker at conferences held by a man who has said African-Americans owe their freedom to white people inspire little confidence on that front.

The money race will be equally interesting. DeSantis won the Republican primary over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam despite a two-to-one fundraising deficit, and since winning the nom, his fundraising has been rather lackluster.

While Gillum chalked up more than $4 million in his post-primary reports, which included more than 27,000 individual contributions of $25 or less, DeSantis flatlined with about $522,000 raised, most of it from a handful of committee donors. Heading into September, Gillum had $4.23 million to spend to DeSantis’ $1.52 million.

As it stands, Gillum has the lead in both cash and polling, and if today were Election Day, he’d be “bringing it home.” Whether that changes — either due to revelatory info on the FBI probe in Tallahassee or DeSantis making another embarrassing appearance on FOX News — is in the candidates’ hands.

The poll also found seven out of the state’s 10 media markets were happy with the direction Florida was heading, though the four that weren’t — Broward/Miami, Palm Beach and Tallahassee — must-wins for any Democrat running statewide. The poll was conducted Sept. 6-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.


@SteveLemongello: 538’s #FLSen forecast should just be a picture of them flipping a coin

—@GeoffBurgan: Down 4 in a GOP leaning poll? No wonder they’re going negative right out of the gate on @AndrewGillum

—@MarcACaputo: A little more about the poll showing Gillum over DeSantis. The Democrat’s big advantage: the gender gap is working in his favor and independents favor him by 13 points

—@JeffSchweers: Tallahassee @COTNews Commissioner Gil Ziffer gives Mayor @AndrewGillum credit for taking leadership role in reducing city’s crime rate, pushing to hire more officers and engage in community policing.

—@PPPapin: This is a hall of fame tropical weather outlook map right here. I’ve never seen anything like this! #Florence, #Helene, #Issac, #95L, #96L, & lets just throw in another 20% baroclinicity induced system for the heck of it. Yes its peak season, but this is getting ridiculous.

@SamantaJGross: Why isn’t @FLGuard deploying their high-water rescue (Zodiac) boats to the Carolinas? I was curious, too PIO says they can’t deploy unless @FLGovScott says to. The @USNationalGuard‘s policy is to take units from states that aren’t hurricane-prone like FL. You know, just in case

—@WCraigFugate: As stressful as this is, I have one more thing for your preparation checklist. Check on your neighbors. Some folks will need help they may not ask for. Too proud, too stubborn, or too scared.

—@FrancesRobles: At least 5 Cuban-Americans in Miami who oppose the embargo with Cuba and promote better relations with the communist government in Havana received surprise visits last week from FBI agents.

—@RudyGiuliani: Just met with @Mike_Miller_FL who is a great candidate in Florida CD 7. His opponent voted against major tax reduction. She will raise your taxes. He will support the lowest taxes possible. Support Miller in FL. I do.

—@JerryIannelli: There is a 100 percent chance the Miami Dolphins Victory Ax is used to commit a crime by 2019



First general election mail ballots go out — 9; First day of fall — 9; Future of Florida Forum — 13; Government shutdown — 18; FSU vs. UM football game — 23; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 26; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 40; MLB World Series begins — 40; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 41; Halloween — 48; General Election Day — 54; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 68; Thanksgiving — 70; Black Friday — 71; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 75; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 152; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 174; 2020 General Election — 782.


Rick Scott’s blind trust mirrors hundreds of investments also held by wife“via Matt Dixon and Alexandra Glorioso of POLTICO Florida – Gov. Rick Scott’s blind trust, set up by the multi-millionaire to avoid perceived conflicts of interest, includes tens of millions of dollars in investments in the exact same companies as his wife, Ann. The holdings give the appearance of what one ethics attorney calls a “common investment strategy” that could undercut the intended independence of Scott’s trust, a POLITICO analysis of financial disclosure reports filed as part of Scott’s Senate campaign shows. Both the first lady’s investments and Scott’s blind trust holdings were revealed as part of federal financial disclosure forms filed in July. It’s clear from reviewing the holdings that actions Scott has taken during his nearly eight years as governor have affected companies in which Ann Scott holds an interest — which he could review as governor — and those held in the blind trust, in which a number of investments mirror those held by his wife.


Red tide and blue-green algae could block Rick Scott’s path to the Senate” via S.V. Date of HuffPost — Like millions of Floridians whose livelihoods are directly and indirectly tied to the state’s water quality, offshore fishing guide Larry Conley is watching his income dry up just as the man he and many others believe is responsible for the environmental calamity is seeking a new political office: Gov. Scott, who hopes to become Sen. Rick Scott. Will the algae disaster be enough to stop Scott, who won both his terms as governor with but the slimmest of margins? “I hope something does,” Conley said. Something may, but there are tens of millions, even a hundred million, reasons to believe that something may not: The piles of campaign dollars Scott has at his disposal to spread the message that ― despite his repeated weakening of environmental standards and enforcement programs ― the whole thing is actually the fault of the Democratic incumbent.

Florida Democrats report above-limit Nelson contributions, blame it on bookkeeping error” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida -The Florida Democratic Party says it will amend federal campaign finance reports after reporting nearly $60,000 in contributions to Nelson ‘s reelection campaign, which would be far above the threshold allowed by federal law. Reports filed over the past three months outlining FDP’s federal activities show nearly $58,000 in contributions to Nelson’s campaign for things like staff salary, health insurance benefits and fundraising, according to a POLITICO review of federal campaign finance reports.

Scott, Bill Nelson dueling campaign ads focus on education spending” via John Lucas of The Capitolist — Nelson’s ad claims budget cuts by Scott during his early years as governor resulted in reductions in per-pupil spending and teacher pay. “It’s no wonder why Florida ranks 40th in education, or why we’re experiencing a shortage of quality teachers,” the Nelson ad said. But, Scott’s ad, called “First,” the campaign says: “Florida’s incredible economic turnaround under Governor Scott has led to unprecedented achievement and funding for education in Florida.” “To pay for great schools, it takes a strong economy,” Scott says in the opening line of the new ad. Scott goes on to say that since Florida’s economic recovery, 4th-grade reading and math scores have become first in the nation. He says 8th-grade reading scores have climbed to first and high school AP classes and college education; both ranked first in the nation.

To view Scott’s ad, click on the image below:

To view Nelson’s ad, click on the image below:

New Nelson ads highlight Scott’s ‘poor job’ as Governor, self-enrichment — Two 30-second spots began airing throughout Florida. One, called “Know,” highlights Scott’s failures as governor including how he enthusiastically gutted environmental regulation that caused the toxic algae crisis plaguing Florida. The ad reminds people how Scott disgraced himself as a businessman whose company ripped off Medicare and U.S. taxpayers in one of the largest fraud schemes to date. It also cites media investigations into how Scott reaped a half-billion-dollar windfall from investments he hid from the public. The second spot, called “Amigos” — broadcast on Hispanic media across Florida — reminds voters how Scott raised $20 million for Trump’s election before Trump recruited Scott to run for Senate.

To view “Know,” click on the image below:

To view “Amigos,” click on the image below:

George W. Bush to headline Scott fundraiser in Palm Beach” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Former President Bush is holding a fundraiser for Scott in Palm Beach on Friday, according to an invitation to the event … The suggested donation to attend is $1,000. For $25,000, prospective donors can “chair” the event … the event is one of several Bush is holding for Republicans in important battlegrounds. Florida is one of a handful of states that could decide who controls the Senate in 2019.

Progressive group poll cautions Nelson against voting for Brett Kavanaugh” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The poll by YouGov Blue on behalf of Demand Justice suggests that politically, Nelson might find little to gain and potentially some votes to lose if he votes for Kavanaugh. In Florida, 80 percent of undecided voters answered that it would not impact their vote if Nelson decides to oppose Kavanaugh, according to a news release issued by Demand Justice. On the other hand, the survey finds that 31 percent of Florida Democrats say they would be less likely to vote for Nelson if he votes to confirm Kavanaugh. Influence Watch notes that Demand Justice was formed earlier this year as a nonprofit social welfare organization which hosts many similar advocacy groups advocating for a progressive-politics agenda, and emerged as one of the leading opposition groups to Kavanaugh’s nomination. The poll of 451 likely Florida voters was conducted Aug. 24-Sept. 1, and YouGov Blue cites a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Fact-checking Scott and the risk to pre-existing condition protections” via Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact Florida — The Florida Democratic Party said, “Nearly 7 million Floridians have pre-existing conditions — but Scott and Florida Republicans wants to take away their health care coverage by ending the Affordable Care Act.” Scott says he’s in favor of preserving pre-existing condition protections, but he’s a longtime supporter of repealing the law that enshrines them, which means he’s pursuing a policy that endangers those protections. Meanwhile, the 7 million figure exaggerates the number of people who would be at immediate risk of seeing their coverage taken away shortly after an adverse court decision. That number might be closer to 2 million — a large figure, but substantially smaller than what the tweet said. We rate the statement Half True.


Ron DeSantis pledges Everglades help, oil-drilling opposition in environmental plan” via Marc Caputo and Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — The release of DeSantis’ plan marks his first major policy announcement since winning the Aug. 28 GOP primary — amid a $10 million onslaught from U.S. Sugar — and coincides with an optics-filled airboat trip into the Everglades with “Alligator Ron” Bergeron, a colorful former state wildlife commissioner and construction contractor. The platform embraces some policies already in place, such as building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee and suggests changes without providing specifics. DeSantis’ platform says that on “Day 1” he will “stop toxic algae discharges” and “send clean water south” to restore the Everglades. “The issues with Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades developed over the course of more than a hundred years,” DeSantis’ proposal says. “Politicians continue to propose one-off, shortsighted, band-aid ‘solutions’ that provide no relief to those subjected to red tide and algae clogged water.”

Republican governors ad pegs Andrew Gillum as ‘way out there’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Republican Governors Association is entering the Florida election with a television commercial declaring that Democratic nominee Gillum is so far out there, “he’s on another planet.” The new 30-second spot, “Too Far,” outlines Gillum’s positions favoring universal health care, a tax increase on corporations to pay for expanded education funding, and to abolish and replace the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and charges that he and his ideas go “too far” for Floridians. Two of those three items, involving health care and ICE, are federal matters, outside the power of the governor’s office, though Gillum has expressed his support for them.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

What Kevin Cate is reading — Viral videos are replacing pricey political ads. They’re cheaper, and they work” via The New York Times — These are not the stories that candidates usually turn to the camera and open up about in ads. One talked about her father’s violent temper and how she once watched him throw her mother through a plate-glass door. Another recalled watching his brothers struggle to find steady work because of their criminal records … For many of these Democrats who were running against better-financed rivals, the breakthrough moment came after they got personal in relatively low-cost videos that went viral, reaching millions of people. Using documentary-style storytelling, which can last for several minutes, candidates have found a successful alternative to the traditional model of raising huge sums of money that get spent on expensive, 30-second television commercials … For a fraction of the cost, these videos can help to spread a candidate’s story in a way that is easily shareable and can inspire donations.

Florida Supreme Court’s future part of the Governor race” via Randy Schultz for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In a 4-3 opinion, the Florida Supreme Court last week upheld the trial judge who ruled that Amendment 8 would have misled voters. Supporters called the proposal civic-minded education reform. In fact, Amendment 8 sought to promote charter schools over traditional public schools by removing any local oversight of charters. Three justices in that majority were Fred LewisBarbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. Their terms expire on Jan. 7, the day before Scott leaves office, because they will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. Scott claims that he should fill those vacancies, not his successor. Democrats disagree. If Democrat Gillum beats Republican DeSantis, no one should expect similar collegiality between Gillum and Scott. Even if DeSantis wins, there might be a court fight. At stake is the privilege of choosing a near majority on the court. Here’s another potential twist. If Scott defeats Nelson, he will be sworn into the U.S. Senate four days before his term as governor ends. In that scenario, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera might try to appoint the new justices.


“‘A mistake:’ Florida GOP candidates take risk in backing Scott’s medical marijuana smoking ban” via Marc Caputo and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida – The Republicans running to succeed Gov. Scott, and those trying to hold onto Florida Cabinet seats, are all supporting his decision to fight medical marijuana patients in court — even though the politics of pot could work against the party this fall in Florida. A circuit court in May struck down a Scott-approved law banning the smoking of cannabis or its purchase in its common bud form; Scott is now appealing that ruling.

Supreme Court accepts ‘bundling’ challenge to constitutional amendments” via Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously agreed to consider a challenge on whether three proposed constitutional amendments should be blocked from the November ballot. The court, however, postponed a decision “as to whether the case will be submitted … with or without oral argument,” its order said. Attorney General Pam Bondi appealed after Circuit Judge Karen Gievers found that the three proposals — including a measure that would ban offshore oil drilling and ban vaping in workplaces — improperly “bundled” unrelated issues. In her ruling, Gievers agreed with retired Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead and another plaintiff that such bundling would violate the First Amendment rights of voters, who could have conflicting views of issues in single ballot proposals.

Tax amendment backers make big ad buy” via the News Service of Florida — The committee known as Amendment 2 is for Everybody paid the money to the New York-based firm McLaughlin & Associates. The committee, which has been heavily funded by the industry group Florida Realtors, had nearly $400,000 in remaining cash on hand as of Friday … The proposed constitutional amendment would extend a property-tax cap for commercial and other non-homestead properties. Voters in 2008 approved a constitutional change that placed a 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of non-homestead properties. The limit will expire Jan. 1 unless it is extended by voters through this year’s proposed constitutional amendment, which will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2.

Local elected officers launch Amendment 10 initiative” via Florida Politics — Some of Florida’s Sheriffs, Tax Collectors, Clerks of Circuit Court, Property Appraisers, and other supporters gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to kick off a “statewide education initiative” about Amendment 10, or the “Protection Amendment.” “The amendment safeguards the interests of Floridians by protecting our right to vote, our families, our tax dollars, and our veterans,” a news release said. “Amendment 10 keeps, and in some cases returns, the power into the hands of the people.” The state’s Supreme Court last week unanimously upheld a lower-court ruling approving the amendment, which would overhaul state and local governments by requiring certain offices now appointed to be elected. That means the constitutional change remains on the Nov. 6 ballot, though it still must be approved by no less than 60 percent of voters to take effect.

Mary Barzee Flores: Mario Diaz-Balart’s health care record is ‘hurting families’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Barzee Flores is out with her first ad of the general election campaign, hitting incumbent U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart on his health care record. The two are competing in Florida’s 25th Congressional District after both candidates went through their respective primaries unopposed. Now Barzee Flores is seeking to go on the attack, critiquing the congressman in the new ad, “Afford.” The 30-second spot is set to air in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Ft. Myers/Naples markets. The ad will run in both English and Spanish.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

New ad targets Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s ties to Ukrainian oligarch” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The National Republican Congressional Committee is out with a new ad revisiting allegations of ties between Mucarsel-Powell and a Ukrainian oligarch named Ihor Kolomoisky. Mucarsel-Powell, a candidate for Florida’s 26th Congressional District, faced scrutiny over her husband’s work for Kolomoisky during the Democratic primary this summer. She called the latest ad “a complete lie.” Mucarsel-Powell is competing against incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Earlier, a radio ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund attempted to link Mucarsel-Powell to the oligarch as well. Now, the NRCC is bringing attention to the claims once again in a new ad titled, “Connection.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Save the date:

Assignment editors — Representatives of Florida Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and former Tampa Bay Estuary Program executive director Holly Greening to endorse Lindsay Cross for Senate District 24, 11 a.m., Archibald Park Madeira Beach, 15100 Gulf Blvd., St. Petersburg.

Anna Eskamani campaign video pays tribute to her inspiration, her mother” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Eskamani is launching a social-media campaign video telling the story of her mother, an Iranian immigrant who pursued the American dream and laid the foundation for her daughter’s values, before dying young. The two-minute, 11-second video, “My Mother’s Name Is Nasrin” is produced to be both inspiring and heartbreaking, while telling the story of Eskamani’s parents coming to America, meeting, working hard, and raising a family in Orlando, and how her memory drives her daughter. After Eskamani announces she found her purpose, the video changes to mostly contemporary footage of Eskamani driving, making speeches, meeting with people, and contemplating her mother. The shots also feature a variety of ordinary HD 47 residents in settings ranging from workplaces to a Pulse memorial. The video’s message transforms into a campaign theme about what Eskamani said her purpose is.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


Florida agencies, utilities poised to provide hurricane help” via the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott said Florida state agencies and electric utilities are taking steps to provide help after Hurricane Florence hits land later this week. Scott’s office said Florida has sent two urban search-and-rescue teams to North Carolina and South Carolina; a nursing team of 29 people to North Carolina to help with special-needs shelters, and five ambulance teams to North Carolina to help with medical evacuations. The assistance also includes Florida utilities sending crews to help restore power after the hurricane and the state suspending requirements for transportation of animals to help in the movement of livestock from areas affected by the hurricane.

Officials release new details on Hamilton prison riot” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — The riot that drew a heavy law enforcement response to a northeast Florida prison was triggered Friday by an inmate being gassed outside of a dormitory next to the recreation yard, officials said. The inmate at Hamilton Correctional Institute Annex was “being disruptive” and refused to comply with orders before he was gassed, according to a report by the Florida Department of Corrections. The incident at the facility located north of Live Oak was within view of some 100 inmates on the recreation yard being monitored by four staff members. “The inmates on the yard observed the use of chemical agent force and took exception to the actions by staff and began destroying property, breaking broomsticks, and surrounding the staff members that were assigned to the recreation yard,” the report said. After staff escaped from the yard, the Designated Armed Response Team deployed two flash bangs “to control the situation and prevent further damage to property,” the report said.

Officials release new details on Hamilton prison riot last week. (Image via Florida Times-Union)

Florida uninsured rate increases, tops national average” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — More than 2.6 million people in Florida lacked health insurance at some point in 2017, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau. That means about 12.9 percent of the state’s population last year was uninsured — up from 12.5 percent in 2016 — as Florida continued to be higher than the national average of 8.8 percent. “Florida is going in the wrong direction, and Florida already had a high uninsured rate, to begin with,” said Joan Alker, executive director and research professor at the Center for Children and Families at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy. Nationally, the data showed that about 1 in 4 uninsured people were 26 to 34 years old, and about 1 in 5 uninsured people were ages 34 to 44. Data also indicated that the uninsured tended to have lower incomes and were more likely to have high-school educations or less. Florida had the fifth-highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, with the higher states Texas (17.3 percent), Oklahoma (14.2 percent), Alaska (13.7 percent) and Georgia (13.4 percent).

Apply within: Panel starts process to replace Supreme Court justices” via Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission on Wednesday announced it would start accepting applications to fill three upcoming vacancies. Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince face mandatory retirement on the same day that term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott will leave office. Under the state constitution, judges and justices face mandatory retirement at age 70. In Florida, judicial vacancies are filled by appointment by the Governor, from a list of applicants vetted and submitted by judicial nominating panels. “Based on the Supreme Court’s current composition, one seat must be filled by a qualified applicant who resides in the Third Appellate District (based in Miami); the other two seats are at-large,” a news release said. The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court.

Citizens Insurance eyes ‘assignment of benefits’” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway announced the state-backed insurer is working on the “logistics” for public roundtable discussions as a way to find solutions to the practice of “assignment of benefits.” The announcement came after a request by state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “The bottom line is AOB abuse and runaway litigation threaten to raise premiums for many Citizens policyholders who otherwise would see their rates remain steady or go down,” Gilway said in a statement. Citizens and other insurers have contended that fraud and abuse in assignment of benefits have led to costly lawsuits and driven up rates. But contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys argue the process helps to ensure that damage claims are paid correctly.

State Farm drops lawsuit over ‘AOB’ information” via the News Service of Florida — State Farm Florida this week dismissed a lawsuit that stemmed from a woman filing a public-records request for information that the company submitted to regulators about the controversial insurance practice known as “assignment of benefits.” State Farm filed the lawsuit in July against the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, arguing that the information should be shielded from disclosure because it is a trade secret and exempt from the state’s public-records laws. But in a one-page document, State Farm said it was dismissing the case because the public-records request was withdrawn. The Office of Insurance Regulation received the records request in June from Elizabeth Tuxbury, a graduate student at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University who sought information submitted to the state after a “data call” of insurers. The document does not explain why the records request was withdrawn.

Horse group responds in challenge of Calder Casino gambling permit — A Florida Thoroughbred horsemen’s group told a Tallahassee judge not to throw out its challenge of a South Florida track’s gambling license, saying it hadn’t gotten proper notice of the state’s granting of the permit this February. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA) also argued that if its challenge is what’s called a “collateral attack” on Calder Casino’s summer jai alai permit, it’s allowed under state law. The administrative law case, against the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, has put a spotlight on the strain between the greyhound and horse industries and racetrack operators, who continue trying to get rid of live racing but hold on to lucrative games like slots and poker. Tracks in Florida generally are required to keep running live races to have slots and card games that usually make facilities more money. Calder, which holds a limited schedule, is trying to ditch horse racing entirely to switch to jai alai.

Calder Casino faces a ‘collateral attack’ from a Thoroughbred horseman’s group.

Initial brief filed in Miami Beach minimum wage casevia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — An initial brief has now been filed in a case before the Florida Supreme Court that could have far-reaching implications on local minimum wage ordinances. The Court agreed to hear the case, City of Miami Beach v. Florida Retail Federation, late last month. Now, attorneys for the City of Miami Beach have filed arguments that lower courts erred in their rulings striking down the city’s minimum wage ordinance, approved in 2016. A state law, passed in 2003, preempt local governments from deviating from the statewide minimum wage. But the city argues the Florida Minimum Wage Amendment, passed in 2004, overrode that 2003 law.

Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano will speak in Melbournevia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Napolitano is set to deliver a speech later this month at a Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida (RLCCEF) event in Melbourne. The RLCCEF will be hosting its annual Constitution Day Dinner on Sunday, Sept. 23. Napolitano will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. “Our purpose in putting on this dinner every year is to honor the Constitution, our Founders, the men and women of our armed forces and our first responders,” said Bob White, Chairman of the RLCCEF and the RLC Florida. “We’re very proud of the speakers we’ve brought to Brevard County in years past, but this year we’ve really outdone ourselves. Judge Napolitano is known as one of the foremost authorities on the Constitution.”

First in Sunburn –More marijuana dealmaking: Trulieve merging with Canadian company” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A Canadian mining concern this week said it had finalized a deal to merge with Trulieve, a Florida medical marijuana provider. Toronto-based Schyan Exploration Inc. will combine with Trulieve Inc. to become Trulieve Cannabis Corp. It will trade stock publicly in Canada. The agreement was announced Tuesday. The closing date for the transaction is expected to be “on or around” next Friday, a press release said. The full financial terms were not disclosed. It’s the latest big deal in the state’s now go-go medicinal cannabis market, seen as a potential multibillion-dollar industry by investors.

Jimmy Buffett signs licensing deal with medical marijuana firm” via Jeff Ostrowsky of the Palm Beach Post — Buffett will license his Coral Reefer brand to Surterra Holdings Inc. for a line of cannabis products including vape pens, gel caps, edibles and lotions … “Cannabis is good medicine and should be made available to all who need it,” Buffett said in a statement. Buffett considered deals with several cannabis companies but chose Surterra because it focused on health and wellness rather than recreation … Buffett would receive royalties from the deal but not a stake in the startup. Coral Reefer pot products will be available at Surterra stores in Florida starting next spring.

State divvies up money to curb bear-human conflicts” via the News Service of Florida — Eight counties and two cities will divide $500,000 the state has set aside to help reduce bear-human conflicts. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the awarding of the “BearWise” funds, with the largest allocations going to Seminole County, Apopka and Santa Rosa County. Seminole County will receive $177,000 and the Orange County city of Apopka will get $85,000, with both planning to sell bear-resistant trash cans to residents at a discounted price. Santa Rosa County will get $58,000 to make dumpsters bear-resistant at restaurants and other businesses in southern parts of the county. The commission also is sending $25,000 to Lake County for discounted bear-resistant trash cans. Lake, Santa Rosa and Seminole counties and Apopka are getting 69 percent of the state agency’s money, which was approved by the Legislature and generated in part through the sale of “Conserve Wildlife” license plates.


Joe Henderson: If Andrew Gillum is radical, so are lots of people” via Florida Politics — If I may offer just a tiny bit of advice to my GOP friends, it would be this: Be careful with all that “radical” talk. It’s not “radical” to say health care isn’t a privilege reserved for those who can afford good insurance. It’s not “radical” to say the failure to expand Medicaid to the neediest citizens is a moral failing by a government that should try to represent all the people. It’s not “radical” to say our public schools deserve better than they have gotten from a state government masking attacks on the teachers’ union as educational reform. Nor is it “radical” to question why Tallahassee, under Republican control for 20 years, has taken to slashing and burning environmental protections in a state where the great outdoors is kind of important. After controlling everything in Tallahassee for two decades, Republicans have become tone-deaf. They believe they’re responsible only to people who believe in the same things they do, and to hell with everybody else. That ignores the fact, by the way, that Scott won two elections to be Governor by about one percentage point each time.

Why state marijuana-impaired driving laws need reformvia Ian Stewart of Law360 — The expanding legalization of cannabis may be sending a message to drivers that marijuana is not as dangerous as previously thought. As noted in its July 2017 report to Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cautions that this changing perception is likely impacting personal choices regarding marijuana use, and that “as more people choose to use marijuana, it is likely more people will drive impaired by marijuana.” This is borne out by recent studies that show an increasing national trend in marijuana use.


Personnel note: Teye Reeves joins Smith, Bryan & Myers” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Lobbyist Reeves has joined the Tallahassee firm of Smith, Bryan & Myers (SBM). “Teye has cemented herself as an ardent influencer in the Capitol,” said Matt Bryan, president of SBM, in a statement. “She has the ability to see an issue from all angles and effectively navigate it through the legislative and executive process. “We’re happy to have her as a part of our diverse team focused on providing complete and successful representation for our clients.” Added Reeves: “I’m excited to be joining Smith, Bryan & Myers. They have a stellar team approach with a reputation of getting things done for their clients. I look forward to being a part of the team.”

Congratulations to Teye Reeves.

Personnel note: Thomas Philpot named acting Deputy Secretary at DBPR — A department spokeswoman confirmed the move Wednesday. Philpot has been director of the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. He’ll fill in as Deputy Secretary of Business Regulation for Andrew Fier, who recently left to join the Vezina, Lawrence & Piscitelli law firm in Tallahassee. Philpot was most recently in the news for rejecting a request to install high-tech beer and wine vending machines in South Florida, a proposal opposed by lawmakers and industry groups.

Appointed — Heather Stearns to the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission; Anthony Waylon Graham to the 14th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission; Vivian FazioAlice Sum and William McCormick to the 17th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission; and Aaron Haak and Andrea Smith to the 20th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.

— ALOE —

Universal moving Christian music fest to February” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Universal Orlando’s annual Christian music festival, Rock the Universe, is being moved on the theme park’s calendar for 2019. The next edition of the festival will take place on Feb. 1 and 2 … its news release mentioned it might attract more youth groups to “enjoy a faith-filled weekend of live music, worship and theme park thrills” since most schools will be in session by the new dates. Attendees will have a chance to get autographs from top Christian artists and experience a candle-lighting ceremony on the night of Feb. 2 and a Sunday morning worship service. The announcement also included the reveal of six performers for next year’s event. The Friday, Feb. 1 lineup will feature LecraeMatthew West and Colton DixonSkilletBethel Music and Crowder will play on Saturday, Feb. 2.

New park president takes over at SeaWorld Orlando” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — SeaWorld park President Jim Dean has moved up to a position in SeaWorld’s corporate office. In turn, a corporate officer has now taken over the reins of the Orlando park. The new president is Mark Pauls, who had previously served as vice president of operations for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Pauls has also held leadership positions at two of the company’s parks in Virginia, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Dean, who had previously spent nearly seven years as park president of Busch Garden Tampa, had been in charge at SeaWorld Orlando since 2017.

’Wreck-It-Ralph’ VR attraction coming to Disney Springs” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The “hyper-reality” attraction, as Disney calls it, will be named Ralph Breaks VR and be based on the upcoming Disney film “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the second film to feature Ralph and his video game world. Ralphs Breaks VR is being built as a collaboration between Disney, ILMxLAB — the immersive entertainment division at Lucasfilm — and The VOID, the same partnership involved in the Star Wars: Secret of the Empire VR experience already operating at Disney Springs and at the Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney. “Our filmmakers and the terrific people at ILMxLAB have collaborated to bring an incredible hyper-real experience, for all ages, to The VOID,” said “Ralph Breaks the Internet” producer Clark Spencer on the Disney Parks Blog. “We can’t wait for people to be immersed in the worlds of the internet and online gaming with Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope.” An official launch date has not been announced. The film opens on November 21.

What’s in the Amazon box? Maybe a real 7-foot Christmas tree” via The Associated Press — Watch out for the 7-foot box on the doorstep. Amazon plans to sell and ship fresh, full-size Christmas trees this year … Christmas trees, including Douglas firs and Norfolk Island pines, will be bound and shipped without water in the usual sort of box. Amazon said they’d be sent within 10 days of being cut down, possibly even sooner, and should survive the shipping just fine … trees, wreaths and garlands will go on sale in November. Some will qualify for Prime free shipping, and Amazon will offer preorders so shoppers can choose a delivery date. A 7-foot Fraser fir from a North Carolina farm will cost $115, according to an Amazon holiday preview book. Also listed are a $50 wreath and a $25 red-leafed plant with a decorative candy cane speared into the soil.

That 7-foot Amazon box could be a Christmas tree.

Florence’s approach causes plethora of ACC schedule changes” via Aaron Beard of The Associated Press — The list of canceled games include No. 13 Virginia Tech’s home game against East Carolina, No. 14 West Virginia’s trip to North Carolina State and No. 18 UCF’s game at North Carolina. Virginia has moved its Saturday home game against Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee, with the Category 3 storm forecast to come ashore along the Carolinas’ coastline late Thursday or early Friday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain throughout the region. The schools with canceled games left open the possibility of trying to reschedule them for later in the season, but there’s no guarantee that will work. There certainly aren’t many easy options for rescheduling games. The best chance would come if the teams share an off week, but that’s not an option here. There’s also the weekend of Dec. 1 after the scheduled completion of the regular season, though that could conflict with conference championship games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers to unveil Bucs Beach at Raymond James Stadium” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The new beach-theme concept will be outside of the stadium’s gates, allowing anyone to enter when it debuts on Sept. 16, when the Buccaneers play the Philadelphia Eagles. “Bucs Beach is meant to create an experience in how we re-imagined the South Plaza space,” said Atul Khosla, Bucs chief corporate development and brand officer. “You will find everything from sand to the chairs, hammocks, tiki huts, local artists, food trucks, DJs entertaining the crowd and corporate partners activating in that space,” Khosla said. The concept is also open to naming rights, Khosla said. Bucs Beach cost more than $250,000, which the team covered.

Happy birthday belatedly to nice guy/top lobbyist Jeff Hartley, Siobhan Harley Kavanaugh, and Elizabeth Wester. Celebrating today are INFLUENCE 100’er Rosemary Goudreau O’Hara, Will McKinley, and David’s much better half, Melissa Joiner Ramba, who helps lead the Florida Retail Federation.

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.


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.

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