Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.5.18

Miami Sunrise

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

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

Look for the Ron DeSantis transition team to make official today what has been speculated about this past week: Richard Corcoran for Education Commissioner and Jared Moskowitz for Director of Emergency Management. There could be other roll-outs. Now that Chief-of-staff-to-be Shane Strum is on the ground in Tallahassee, expect a flurry of announcements before next week’s legislative committee meetings.

Keep an eye on Sen. Joe Gruters today. He’s moving aggressively to lock-up support for a last-hour bid for chair of the Florida GOP. Does he have the ascent of his fellow Senators, Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson? We hear that the House won’t put up a fight if he’s the pick. Perhaps Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis will put out a statement of support for the Sarasota Republican.

The Associated Industries of Florida’s 2018 “Building Florida’s Future” Symposium sets sail this afternoon at Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower, one of the newly constructed event spaces at the fast-growing post-Panamax port.

Kicking off the two-day event is a 5 p.m. reception featuring AIF prez, former Congressman and former House Speaker Tom Feeney, Port Canaveral CEO John Murray and Cape Canaveral Mayor Bob Hoog.

Tom Feeney will kick off the Associated Industries of Florida 2018 “Building Florida’s Future” Symposium in Port Canaveral.

The trio will speak to a crowd of business leaders, state and national industry experts, and senior elected officials about Florida’s transportation infrastructure and what needs to be done to keep the Sunshine State competitive in the coming decades.

Fostering growth in the commercial space industry, becoming a model for innovation and how Florida can drive growth via its trade gateways — it’s all on the table.

Day two ditches the flight deck for a series of detailed breakout sessions headed up by the likes of James Ray, special adviser to the U.S. Secretary for Infrastructure, and James Uthmeier, counsel to the Office of Secretary and special adviser to the Secretary for Space at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Slated for an “intelligent transportation” panel are Verizon’s Crystal Chubeck, Enterprise Holdings’ Tomi Gerber, Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz and Stephanie Smith of Uber. A panel may sate those looking to toward the stars on Florida’s role in the future of interstellar travel featuring Northrop Grumman’s Jerry Close, Lockheed Martin’s Bill Pratt and Moon Express’ Alain Berinstain.

As illustrated by numerous industry conferences this year, from the Florida Chambers’ Future of Florida Forum to the Florida Internet & Television’s FITCon, the message has been clear: The future is coming, and it’s time for Florida to prepare.


—@LearyReports: .⁦@JebBush⁩ at #WSJCEOCouncil says he’s gotten 1,800 emails from people about his father and will respond to them all – “because my dad would ask me to do that. … “He treated everybody the same way and that’s the most powerful lesson I’ve learned.”

@MichaelMcGough3: I shot the tariff, but I did not shoot the subsidy.

—@MarcoRubio: MBS has absolute power in #SaudiArabia & 17 people linked to him flew into Turkey & murdered a man in a Saudi consulate. You don’t need a “smoking gun” to conclude he ordered & was deeply involved in the #KhashoggiMurder.

@Scott_Maxwell: (Michael) Avenatti cites his family as the reason for not running. Others cite the fact that he was recently arrested, was only really known for repping a porn star … and lost a lot while doing so.

@Fineout: It’s been noted by others that @FLGovScott now has the least amount of seniority in US Senate. If your end goal is to wind up at a different address in 6 years, that may not be a big deal

@MikeVanSickler: The big loser in Rick Scott not resigning is the guy who would have drawn the gubernatorial portrait for Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

@MDixon55: Nothing political about abruptly keep a Republican administration’s education commissioner in place just before an election only to have that person resign as originally planned when it’s clear a democrat won’t take over DOE

@Laura_E_Adkins: One of my favorite things about @RepTedDeutch‘s press team is that they have a separate “serious face” news release header and a “happy face” news release header.

@JimmyPatronis: Thanks to @PamBondi, 70 animals have found loving homes to be a part of, including one Patronis household.

—@JeffBurlew: Leon County reminding people that Dec. 10 is the deadline for people affected by Hurricane Michael to apply for FEMA assistance. To register, go to or call 800-621-3362 or visit a disaster recovery center (the list can be found at ).


Partial government shutdown — 2; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 6; 116th Congress convenes — 29; College Football National Championship — 33; Florida’s gubernatorial inauguration — 34; Office of Insurance Regulation’s OIR Summit begins — 41; Super Bowl LIII — 60; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 69; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 90; Tampa mayoral election — 90; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 93; Iowa Caucuses — 425; 2020 General Election — 699.


Education Commissioner Pam Stewart resigns, clearing way for Ron DeSantis to tap Richard Corcoran” via Leslie Postal and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — In her resignation letter, Stewart the move made sense “in light of recent election results and announcements.” Stewart had intended to retire in January, when Gov. Rick Scott left office, but in October the State Board of Education asked her to stay on for another year, and she agreed. In recent days, politicians close to DeSantis said the Republican wanted Corcoran at the helm of Florida’s public education system, a prospect that already has drawn the ire of the state’s teacher’s union and some Democrats. In her letter to Marva Johnson, chairman of the state board, Stewart said she was leaving with “bittersweet feelings” but proud of the many achievements Florida has made academically. She has been commissioner since 2013.

Education Secretary Pam Stewart is stepping aside, clearing a path for Richard Corcoran.


ICYMI — Peter’s take on the “team of rivals” tug-of-war inside DeSantis’ transition team, which is molding his fledgling administration, and the outsized influence that Congressman Matt Gaetz is wielding. That story is here.  

Happening today — The economic committee for Governor-elect DeSantis will meet at the University of South Florida Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, 1 p.m., 124 S. Franklin St., Tampa. Members of the media are requested to arrive between noon and 12:30 p.m.

Judge tosses write-in candidate’s challenge of Governor’s election — Palm Beach Circuit Judge Meenu Sasser had set an emergency hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday after receiving a complaint. It was handwritten from Piotr Blass, a perennial write-in candidate who got six votes statewide this month for Governor, then challenged Republican DeSantis’ election. She later dismissed the case. Blass asked the court to declare the results of the election for Governor “illicit, corrupt, illegal, unconstitutional, void, and forgotten,” the complaint says. Blass wanted a new election next November, volunteering to serve as “acting moral governor” till then. His grounds for the suit are still unclear, though he did mention the need for “proper election machines” and “fair media coverage.”

Seminole County elections chief in running to be next Secretary of State” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The longtime supervisor of elections in suburban Orlando’s Seminole County, Michael Ertel, is a leading candidate to be Florida’s next Secretary of State. Ertel, 49, is a Republican who was appointed supervisor by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005 when the previous elections chief resigned. Ertel previously applied for secretary of state when the post became vacant in 2012 after Kurt Browning resigned. Like Governor-elect DeSantis, who will make the appointment, Ertel is a veteran who served in the Army. “I think it’s no secret that he’s interested,” Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley said of Ertel.

Michael Ertel may be the leading pick for Ron DeSantis’ Secretary of State.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera won’t be next governor after all” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott will not resign from office before his term ends, a spokesman announced. “When Governor Scott was elected Governor of Florida, he promised to fight for Florida families every single day of his term,” said John Tupps, Scott’s Communications Director. “Governor Scott will remain Governor until January 8th, 2019.” The announcement extinguishes speculation that Lt. Gov. Lopez–Cantera would briefly assume the governorship. Many believed Scott, elected to the U.S. Senate in November, would resign as governor ahead of the Senate’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 3. If that were the case, Lopez-Cantera would be in line to take over until Scott’s term officially ended five days later on Jan. 8.

Why it’s no surprise (from 2016): “Rick Scott sidelined Lopez-Cantera during GOP Senate race, schedules show” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — For three months, Lopez-Cantera had hardly been visible in matters of state — while Scott had one of his busiest seasons in office. The Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Zika virus outbreak in Miami. The Hurricane Hermine aftermath in Tallahassee. Scott moved from crisis to crisis, seizing the chance to appear on camera as a hands-on chief executive. A Miami Herald review of the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s public schedules from June 12 (the day of the Pulse shooting) to Aug. 30 (the day of the Florida primary) found 254 events for Scott, compared with only 21 for Lopez-Cantera. On at least four occasions, Scott attended an event in Miami-Dade or Broward counties — within driving distance from Lopez-Cantera’s Coral Gables home — without the LG. What changed in September? The primary was over. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had crushed Republican challenger Carlos Beruff.


Nikki Fried unveiled the leadership of her Inaugural Committee. The Inaugural Committee will organize events in Tallahassee in the lead-up to, and day of, Fried’ss swearing-in as Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services on January 8. The chairs of Fried’s Inaugural Committee are Jenni Shaffren and Ben Pollara. Shaffren is Fried’s sister; Pollara is a Miami-based political consultant who was a senior advisor to Fried’s campaign. Stephanie McClung will serve as Executive Director of the Inauguration efforts, McClung served as senior finance advisor to the Fried campaign. Heading up finance for the Inaugural Committee are longtime Democratic strategists and activists, Mitchell Berger, Kelly Cohen, Jodi Bock Davidson, Justin Day, Sean Pittman, Heather Turnbull and Stephanie Grutman Zauder.

Also on the Inaugural Host Committee: Michael L. Bronstein, Yolanda Cash Jackson, Ana Cruz, Mayanne Downs, Candice Ericks, Michael Fernandez, Susan Alickman, Brian Goldmeier, Pamela Goodman, Alexander P. Heckler, Fedrick Ingram, Shellie Levin, Fred Lippman, Melissa McKinlay, Todd Michaels, Harold Mills, Pete Mitchell, Dan Newman, Rhett O’Doski, Juan Penalosa, Ariel Pereda, Joe Salzverg, Andrew Smith, Sawyer Smith, Richard Swann, Allison Tant, an Screven Watson.


Good luck — Senator proposes Medicaid expansion” via the News Service of Florida — State Sen. Perry Thurston filed the measure (SB 126) for consideration during the Legislative Session. The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand eligibility to adults whose incomes are up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. But the Republican-dominated Florida House has refused to go along with past proposals to expand coverage. For a single person, 138 percent of the federal poverty level equates to an income of $16,753 this year. For a family of four, it compares to an income of $34,638.

Perry Thurston filed a bill to expand Medicaid in Florida. Good luck with that. (Image via the Orlando Sentinel)

House bill seeks to expand use of drones” via the News Service of Florida — Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough has introduced legislation (HB 75) that would expand the use of unmanned aircraft. In addition to crowd control and traffic management, Yarborough’s proposal would allow law enforcement agencies to use drones to collect evidence at crime scenes and traffic crashes. Other state agencies and local governments could use the unmanned craft to assess damages from floods, wildfires and other natural disasters, or for land management. A 2013 Florida statute bans law enforcement agencies from using unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance or evidence gathering. The law allows a judge to issue a warrant allowing the use of drones if there is a “high risk of terrorist attack” or if officials fear someone is in imminent danger.

Lawmakers hear wish lists from Hernando officials.” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — By the end of Monday’s legislative delegation meeting, state Sen. Wilton Simpson, state Reps. Blaise Ingoglia and Ralph Massullo had a long and pricey list of local projects pitched to them for water quality improvement, community infrastructure and economic development. Some requests were for sweeping funding fixes, such as the one requested by outgoing Hernando County Clerk of Courts Don Barbee. He urged lawmakers to approve a new funding formula to support the clerk’s many duties. The priciest was a request for $10.4 million, with Hernando contributing another $2.6 million, to convert 450 septic systems in the Spring Hill area to county sewer service. The state has pushed conversions in areas where septic systems leach into and foul natural springs, such as those that feed the Weeki Wachee River.

Happening today — State Rep. Holly Raschein of Key Largo and staff members from Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will hold “office hours” in Monroe County to help Citizens policyholders with Hurricane Irma claims or other insurance issues, 10 a.m., Salvation Army building, 30300 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key.

Joe Wicker hints at rematch for House seat” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — One shock for local Republicans was the loss of the Brandon-area state House seat, long a GOP stronghold, to Democrat Adam Hattersley. But Wicker, who lost to Hattersley by three points, is hinting strongly that he wants a rematch. Wicker spoke at a recent Hillsborough County GOP meeting, leaving attendees with the impression he intends to run again but without actually saying so, according to several. He said there was unusually heavy Democratic turnout Nov. 6, which might not happen again — “I know we can win it back in 2020.”


Florida Democrats have a problem winning big among Hispanics. 

And, as the nation’s largest swing state, this problem a national one, write Marc Caputo and Michael Grunwald for POLITICO. 

As one Dem source tells Caputo and Grunwald: “This election was mostly a massive repudiation of Donald Trump, but something went extraordinarily wrong in Florida. Democrats should have done much better with Hispanics there, and instead, we did much worse. We need to have a big conversation about why.”

Assumptions: Florida Democrats have taken for granted that the shared demographics of Hispanics make them inclined to vote Democratic. Instead of spending the necessary time and resources articulating left-leaning policy positions, Democrats have expected their platform to sell itself. 

High praise: Who’s doing things right? Scott, according to state Sen. Annette Taddeo. The Senator-elect is always ‘on’ when it comes to drumming up support from Hispanics. He’s present at events like the inauguration for the president of Colombia, recalls Taddeo. 

Rick Scott made all the right moves to woo Hispanic voters, one of the reasons he’s now a U.S. Senator.

In contrast: Nelson never seemed to understand the importance of the Hispanic voting bloc. One source illustrated this idea to Grunwald and Caputo via anecdote. “ … just before Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey started their presentation about immigration reform, Nelson walked out of the room.” 


Gov. Rick Scott meets with Cabinet for final time” via The Associated Press — The meeting was filled with tributes to veterans, entrepreneurs, teachers, police officers and those who helped the Panhandle recover from Hurricane Michael. Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi also paid tribute to each other as the Republicans ended eight years of working together. Resolutions were approved to recognize their service.

Tweet, tweet:

State turns over Dozier School land to county” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved proposals to transfer state-owned property at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna to Jackson County. Clint Pate, chairman of the Jackson County Commission, said the county is prepared to move government offices into the site, while working to attract private businesses to the land north of Interstate 10. “What’s happened before, it’s kind of given a dark cloud to the county,” Pate said. “But we’re going to do what we’re supposed to and try to create new jobs.”

The Dozier School property now belongs to Jackson County, which will use it to ‘create new jobs.’

Economy expands despite consumer sentiment drop — Consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped 2.7 points in November to 95.1 from a revised figure of 97.8 in October, according to the latest University of Florida Consumer Survey … This is the fourth consecutive month with a decline in consumer sentiment in Florida. Furthermore, this is the lowest reading in the last 13 months … Floridians’ opinions of their personal financial situation now compared with a year ago decreased 3.4 points from 88.3 to 84.9. Similarly, opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance decreased 1 point from 106.8 to 105.8. However, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year showed the greatest decline this month, dropping 8.5 points from 100.3 to 91.8. “These pessimistic views about the short-term outlook on the U.S. economy are shared by all Floridians, but they are particularly strong among women, those aged 60 and older and those with income levels under $50,000,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research … Details of this month’s survey can be found here.

Elections supervisors seek answers on Amendment 4” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Florida officials don’t have a plan for how to carry out a constitutional amendment that restores the right to vote to more than a million Floridians convicted of felonies, state Division of Elections director Maria Matthews told county elections supervisors. Matthews said the state has about 30 days before the amendment goes into effect. Among the many issues at play are definitions in the amendment, such as when a “sentence” is completed, she pointed out. Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards pressed Matthews on how long it would take for the state to provide guidance about the amendment, and whether the Legislature would be responsible for implementing the voting-registration change. “I think that is something that is still under debate,” Matthews said. “We’re hoping within the next month, this will flesh out so that we’ll be able to provide you the guidance that you need.”

Palm Beach County is the lone county to reject sensors that detect hackers” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — To help deter hackers from infiltrating voting systems, the federal government offered all of Florida’s 67 counties a tool to detect and monitor electronic intruders. While the technology does not stop hackers, it alerts officials about possible threats and allows them to respond faster when data may be at risk. Only one county — Palm Beach — rejected the technology in the months before Election Day. That could change now that Palm Beach County plans to update its system next year. “We didn’t think it was a good time to put some function on a legacy system,” said Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. “We’ll take a look next year when we buy new equipment.”

Judge maintains stay on land conservation order — Despite agreeing with environmental groups that the Legislature will continue diverting conservation funds collected under a 2014 ballot measure, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson declined to lift a stay on his June order. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, Dodson said it was “very, very clear” what Florida voters intended when they passed the amendment — that the funds only be used to acquire new land or improve land acquired by the state since 2015. If he were to lift the stay on his ruling, however, it would be reinstated due to an Aug. 29 order from the 1st District Court of Appeal. The conservation amendment was passed by 75 percent of Florida voters four years ago and is expected to bring in more than $20 billion over 20 years to the state Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The Legislature argues that money is needed for other land projects, such as Everglades restoration, while environmental groups contend that such projects were funded via other silos before the amendment’s passage.

Conservation groups warn about development proposed for Florida panther habitat” via Sean Kinane of WMNF — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a proposal by developers to build a sprawling residential community on thousands of acres of prime Florida panther habitat in eastern Collier County, but several environmental groups are fighting back. WMNF News interviewed Amber Crooks, environmental policy manager for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida: “Any time that in panther habitat a development, mine or other impact is being proposed, we do have to consider the loss of habitat and also the impact of things like traffic. Because one of the leading causes of panther mortality is getting hit on our roadways. It’s called the Eastern Collier Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This is something that’s proposed under the Endangered Species Act. Again, it’s because there is an application before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for development and mining on 45,000 acres of panther habitat out in Eastern Collier County.”

TaxWatch throws new idea into workers’ compensation debate” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Asking doctors – instead of courts – to resolve disputed medical claims could save millions of dollars for Florida’s workers’ compensation system, Florida TaxWatch said Tuesday. The nonpartisan government watchdog proposed emulating California’s independent medical review (IMR) process, which steers such disputes to “appropriately qualified, independent medical professionals” rather than compensation judges or the trial courts. The system could reduce the time needed to resolve such disputes from an average of 231 days to about 30, judging by California’s experience, TaxWatch said in an analysis.

Florida takes second place in 2018-19 ‘Judicial Hellholes’ report — The American Tort Reform Foundation releases the survey every year. California tops the list … This year’s No. 2 Judicial Hellhole is Florida, “where the state’s Supreme Court issued a series of liability-expanding opinions that invalidated civil justice reforms including rejection of the Daubert standard for expert witness testimony – a standard adopted by more than 30 state and federal courts.” Florida “had a great opportunity to improve its ranking as a Judicial Hellhole, and they squandered it,” American Tort Reform Association president Tiger Joyce said, adding that the Supreme Court “opened the door for ‘junk science’ in its courtrooms.”

In Florida, thousands of warrants remain unserved” via Daphne Chan of GateHouse Florida — Alleged crimes range from brutal to banal, but all of them appear on the same list of more than 238,000 outstanding warrants for arrest in Florida. The oldest open warrant has been on the books since 1940. Nearly 21,000 others date back more than a quarter-century, according to records obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Officials in Florida, however, say they prioritize what they should: individuals wanted on recent, violent crimes. Older cases, those involving nonviolent crimes, or those in which suspects fled the state — and no longer threaten Florida residents — are lower on the list of priorities.

School shooting PR consultant apologizes after calling critics ‘crazies’ and reporter ‘skanky’” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Sara Brady, who was paid nearly $75,000 to assist the district after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told an audience of public relations professionals last July that critics of the school district’s controversial Promise program, which allowed students who commit minor crimes to avoid jail, were “crazies.” She criticized an unnamed reporter who routinely covers the district as “just a jerk” and then got more personal. “He is sloppy, he’s reckless, he’s mean, and he smells bad,” she said, laughing along with the audience. “The questions that he sends are just plain not legitimate.” At another point in the video, she describes him as “that nasty, skanky reporter.” Brady, of Winter Park, apologized, saying her comments had not been aimed at the bereaved families.

Mea culpa: PR consultant Sara Brady apologizes for questionable comments made while helping the Broward School District after the Parkland shooting.

Florida SWAT officer is demoted after wearing QAnon patched next to Mike Pence” via Matthew Haag of The New York Times — At the end of a trip to South Florida, Pence posed for photos with a group of local SWAT team members who had protected him during the visit. They were shared on Twitter, where among the officers’ green uniforms, a red and black patch on Sgt. Matt Patten’s tactical vest stood out: a bold letter Q and the phrase “Question the Narrative.” While the movement’s loosely connected group of supporters embraced the moment, Sergeant Patten’s employer, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, viewed it as an embarrassment … the sheriff’s office said it had reprimanded him, removed him from the SWAT team and reassigned him to a new department. “Sergeant Patten’s actions of displaying unity with a controversial group is not in alignment with the core values of the law enforcement and the Broward Sheriff’s Office discredited the agency, the county and himself,” a sheriff’s office supervisor wrote in a disciplinary report.

Broward SWAT Sgt. Matt Patten (left) has been demoted since wearing a QAnon patch while protecting Vice President Mike Pence.

Rich sex offender Jeffrey Epstein settles 1 suit, but more to come” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — A lawsuit that many had hoped would expose some of the lurid allegations against Epstein by putting some of his accusers on the stand ended abruptly in a settlement just as jury selection was about to begin. But the attempt to get to the bottom of the Epstein case and how he managed to get such a light sentence is not over: Some of his accusers are pursuing a separate legal effort to nullify the plea agreement and, they hope, expose him to federal prosecution again. Epstein settled a defamation lawsuit brought against him by a lawyer for some of the accusers, Bradley Edwards, who said Epstein tried to derail his representation of the women and ruin his career. In settling, Epstein apologized and agreed to pay an undisclosed amount. Edwards said some of the accusers — some of whom say they were 13 or 14 when they were molested — were prepared to testify in the lawsuit and may yet get their day in federal court. “They’re willing to talk. They want to share their stories,” Edwards said.

NextEra Energy finishes power plant deals” via the News Service of Florida — NextEra, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, completed buying a 100 percent ownership interest in Plant Oleander, a 791-megawatt natural-gas plant near Cocoa. Also, NextEra said it had bought a 65 percent stake in a generating unit known as Stanton Unit A at the Stanton Energy Center complex near Orlando. Stanton Unit A is a 660-megawatt plant. NextEra announced in May that it planned to buy Gulf Power, the Florida City Gas natural-gas company and ownership interests in the two power plants from The Southern Company. Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra, said the company is planning to close the Gulf Power transaction in the first quarter of 2019.


AAN, CLF name new president — Fundraising organizations American Action Network and its affiliated super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, have brought on Dan Conston as president of both groups. … “We are thrilled to welcome back Dan to AAN and CLF,” said former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. “Dan is one of the country’s best young operatives, and we’ve seen it firsthand.” … Conston, a former Florida GOP spox, managed communications and independent expenditures at AAN and CLF during the 2012, 2014 and 2016 election cycles. During his tenure, he amassed an 18-1 record in the U.S. House races he worked on. In 2018, the GCG Solutions partner played key media and advisory roles in the campaigns of newly minted U.S. Reps Dan Crenshaw of Texas and Michael Waltz of Florida. Meanwhile, AAN and CLF brought in a combined $213 million in contribs for the cycle, giving it nearly as much sway as the party’s formal fundraising committee.

Dan Conston is the new leader of both the American Action Network and its affiliated super PAC. (Image via M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)


Cheap and hostile is not the way to attract teachers in Florida” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times — For the better part of two decades, the know-it-alls in Tallahassee have made a crusade out of reforming schools. They’ve changed curriculum — repeatedly. They’ve demanded more standardized tests — and then demanded fewer. They’ve made a battle cry out of freedom and innovation at charter schools while at the same time handcuffing the great majority of public schools. The result is they’ve made schools less appealing to parents. And they’ve made the job less appealing to teachers. “Just let teachers teach. It’s the reason they get in the business. No one becomes a teacher because they have any illusion about getting rich,’’ said Mike Gandolfo, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association. “The problem is they’ve taken all of the joy out of teaching. All (teachers) are being trained to do is teach what’s on the tests, teach what’s going to raise the school’s test numbers.”


When good (and deserved) things happen to great people, we can all readily celebrate for them.

Long-time HCA executive and native Floridian Bryan Anderson is moving up to Corporate Vice President of Government Relations for the nation’s largest hospital system, where he’ll be responsible for public affairs activities in the 25 states where HCA operates. He has been part of HCA’s government relations team for 22 years, the last 15 directing the corporation’s team of lobbyists in Florida.

Previously, Anderson held a different position in Nashville, when the Florida position was created for him after the 2003 medical malpractice crisis.

When good things happen to good people: Congrats to Bryan Anderson.

On his watch, membership in HCA’s employee advocacy program, the Good Government Group, has more than quadrupled to 22,000 members in Florida, and HCA has established itself as an indispensable player in any discussion of the biggest and most significant health care issues.

Anderson has been no stranger to fans of Florida Politics, in part thanks to his frequent service in appointed positions: Gov. Scott named him to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council; he served as a CFO appointee to the board of the Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association (NICA) through three CFOs. Anderson also sat on the board of directors of the Florida and Georgia Chambers of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida TaxWatch, and the Step Up for Students scholarship program, among others.

Anderson will relocate from Tallahassee to the HCA headquarters in Nashville.


Personnel note: Jo Morris joins PinPoint Results” via Florida Politics — Morris, formerly Legislative Affairs Director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), is joining the Tallahassee lobbying firm of PinPoint Results. Morris’ first day on the job is Wednesday. “We are thrilled to have someone of Jo’s caliber and a broad range of experience join our team,” said Robert Beck, President of PinPoint Results. “She’s established herself at the Capitol as a tireless advocate and honest broker – traits critical for every successful lobbyist,” he added. “She works hard and gets results, which is exactly what our clients require of us.”

AppointedRussell Johnson to the Nassau County School Board.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jason Allison, Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: PacketViper

Brian Ballard, Chris Dorworth, Ballard Partners: bestbet

Jose Bermudez, Jose Fuentes, Becker & Poliakoff: City of South Miami

Joanna Bonfanti, Lila Jaber, Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Schoology

Matthew Carmichael: Chevron U.S.A

James Daughton, Warren Husband, Douglas Bell, Patricia Greene, Aimee Lyon, Andrew Palmer, Pierce Schuessler, Metz Husband & Daughton: TransparentBusiness

Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Florida Health Care Association

Scott Jenkins, Wilson & Associates: Florida Energy Pipeline Association, Florida Home Builders Association, Florida Road Material and Construction Association, Florida Road Material and Construction Association

George Levesque, GrayRobinson: Deloitte Consulting

Ryan Matthews, John Wayne Smith, Peebles, Smith & Matthews: City of Frostproof, Florida Sheriffs Association

Carlton Mayers: SPLC Action Fund

Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Alan Williams, Meenan: Brighthouse Financial, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Florida Fire Sprinkler Association, Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, Florida Service Agreement Association, MetLife, NAIFA-Florida, Nationwide Insurance, Pharma Cann, Service Contract Industry Council, Social Sentinel, Solis Health Plans, Tower Hill Insurance Group

— ALOE —

Tired of time getting tangled in holiday lights, some are hiring pros to deck their walls” via Dalvin Brown of USA TODAY — The holiday decorating industry is ripe with round-the-clock experts and design enthusiasts who can do everything from install lights on third-story rooftops to hand-make 6-foot-tall wreaths. Vinny Nicastro runs The Christmas Decorators, a lighting sales, installations and decor removal company based in Staten Island, New York. “There’s never a bad season,” Nicastro said. “The window of opportunity is small, and there’s always more jobs than we can handle. We just don’t have the time to get to everyone.” The Christmas lighting company services more than 150 homes in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey between Nov. 10 and Dec. 15 each year. But, it’ll cost you. On average, clients pay the Christmas Decorators $1,400 for the first installation. Prices start at $499 for simple jobs on small homes.

There’s no ‘bad season’ for professional holiday decorators, like the Staten Island-based Christmas Decorators.


Happy birthday to two of our local friends, Beth Herendeen and Rachel Jennings.

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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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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