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Sunburn: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on May 11, 2012

The app is only a few weeks away, so I figure, why not begin rolling out a preview of what ‘Sunburn’ will be: a morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.  Think Politico Playbook, only right-sized for the Sunshine State…

Already receiving great feedback:

Brian Graham, Dixie Strategies, “This is great stuff!”

@Doug_Bush: Couldn’t be more excited for the app!

@Kevin_Cate: Loving Sunburn!

MARCO RUBIO SPEECH TO IOWA BUSINESS LEADERS HAS HINTS OF 2016

Speaking to a group of influential Iowa business people visiting Capitol Hill Thursday, Rubio delievered a passionate speech that engaged the audience in a way many of the Republicans campaigning in the Hawkeye State last fall never could.  … While Rubio’s speech was largely absent of the Iowa pandering that was common place for GOP candidates in the run up to the caucus, the speech has many of the traits of those given by Republicans on the trail. He was, however, introduced by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who addressed the topic that has brought the most attention of late to the freshman senator. … “Somebody might ask him whether or not he’s going to run for vice president, I don’t know what the answer is, but let me tell you this, let me tell you what I know about Sen. Rubio,” said Grassley. “If he decides a call, it’s not going to be based upon the Republican candidate for president making that call. It’s not going to be based on doing something good for the Republican party.   I know Sen. Rubio that he’s only going to do it because America calls.”

HAS OBAMA JUST LOST FLORIDA OVER GAY MARRIAGE?

“First of all, I believe this was a decision beyond politics,” said Steven Schale, in the blog post of the day from Brian Crowley.

“I really don’t believe there are any electoral implications,” said Schale. “Remember, Obama opposed the gay marriage amendment in 2008 and we won Florida while the amendment passed, and certainly the needle on the issue has moved in the last four years. It might motivate some base voters, but I believe that’s where the politics ends.”

IF GAY MARRIAGE DOESN’T GET OBAMA, THE ECONOMY WILL…81% OF FLORIDIANS STILL THINK THE STATE IS IN RECESSION.

IS CONNIE MACK FLORIDA’S VERSION OF RICK PERRY?

The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato’s latest prognostication:

Speaking of faltering candidacies, Rep. Connie Mack (R) has been floundering in his challenge to Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D). Mack has struggled with basic inquiries from reporters, and he faces the same questions about residency — his wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, lives in California — that helped sink Lugar. Mack reminds us a bit of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the presidential contest, and we’re not being complimentary. Like Perry, who entered the White House race late and had trouble articulating why exactly he was running, Mack seemed to jump into the Florida Senate contest only when it became apparent that the existing GOP field was not very good.

WHO THE HELL IS DAVE WELDON?

Politico: Former Republican Rep. Dave Weldon is seriously considering entering the Florida Senate race and will make a decision on a campaign next week.

“I have had a lot of people in Florida ask me to get in, including elected officials and special interest groups,” Weldon said in a brief interview Thursday. “They think I’d have a better shot at winning in November, beating Sen. Bill Nelson.”

DEMOCRAT PATRICK MURPHY TIED WITH ALLEN WEST IN FIRST DISTRICT 18 POLL

In the first publicly-released poll of the likely November matchup for U.S. Congress in district 18, Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican incumbent Allen West are tied at 45% each.  The poll was taken on behalf of the Murphy campaign by pollster Keith Frederick among 500 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.3%.

The poll also found Mitt Romney ahead of President Obama by 3 points in the district, 49% to 46%.  Respondents broke down as 39% Republican, 36% Democratic, and 25% Independent in the poll, similar to registration numbers released by the Florida House of Representatives during redistricting. The polling memo is here.

WEST OPENS CAMPAIGN OFFICE IN STUART…

U.S. Rep. Allen West has set up shop in downtown Stuart in his multimillion-dollar bid to represent St. Lucie, Martin and northern Palm Beach counties in Congress. The Plantation Republican announced Wednesday his campaign has opened its headquarters at 735 Colorado Ave., Suite 9 in Stuart for the congressional race. Campaign manager Tim Edson said the office is up and running, and residents may stop by to pick up campaign materials or volunteer. The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“We look forward to being part of the Stuart community and working to re-elect Congressman West from an office centrally located on the Treasure Coast,” Edson said.

…IS FUNDRAISING ON FRIDAY

West is in Jacksonville Friday for a rally at noon at the Jacksonville landing – although the people of Jacksonville won’t be able to vote for the South Florida congressman. Friday evening, he’ll be at a fundraiser at the Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville.

ETHICS OFFICE CONTINUES VERN BUCHANAN PROBE

A congressional ethics panel said it has “substantial reason to believe” that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan attempted to influence the testimony of a witness in a case before the Federal Elections Commission looking into his campaign financing. The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics voted 6-0 to recommend that the U.S. House Ethics Committee further review the allegations that Buchanan, a Republican from Sarasota who is running for re-election, agreed to settle a $2.9 million settlement in a business dispute with a former business partner in exchange for the partner providing false testimony to the FEC. Buchanan, the report says, wanted the business partner, who is simply referred to in the report as “Former Business Partner,” to sign a false affidavit about contributions to Buchanan’s campaign from employees of auto dealerships that were then later reimbursed, a violation of campaign finance law. Lawyers for Buchanan have said the report is “fundamentally flawed,” and attacked the credibility of the witnesses who gave the office its information. A spokesman for Buchanan’s congressional office, Max Goodman, told the New York Times that the report was a “disgrace.”

NATIONAL MEDIA IN FEEDING FRENZY OVER BUCHANAN STORY

New York TimesReport Casts Harsh Light on Republican’s Fund-RaisingAssociated PressEthics panel: Rep. Buchanan may have broken lawRoll CallEthics Panel Says It Will Continue Probe of BuchananThe HillEthics investigation of Buchanan extendedWall Street JournalHouse Ethics Committee Reviews New Rep. Buchanan Allegation

STEVE SOUTHERLAND QUALIFIES BY PETITION

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland said Thursday that state elections officials have verified nearly 1,300 more signatures than needed for him to qualify for the re-election ballot. The freshman Republican from Panama City awaits the winner of a crowded Democratic primary in the Congressional District 2 race.

RICK SCOTT’S APPROVAL UP

Gov. Rick Scott is doing better with Florida voters, with his approval rating and favorability growing by seven points each over the last three and a half months, according to a new Suffolk University/WSVN-Miami poll. The survey of likely voters showed 42 percent approved of Scott’s job as governor, while 44 percent disapproved — in late January, the survey found 35 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval. And 37 percent of voters said their opinion of Scott was favorable, up from 30 percent in January; about 45 percent said their opinion was unfavorable, down slightly from 48 percent earlier.

THE ECONOMIST: IT’S JUST NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR RICK SCOTT

Among the most enduring American political ideas is the notion that government can and should be run like a business. Candidates who have succeeded in the corporate world, the theory goes, can bring their no-nonsense, job-creating wisdom to politics. Rick Scott ran for governor of Florida on just such a boast, having made an enormous amount of money running hospitals and as a venture capitalist. Now Gov. Rick Scott is having to learn the difference between the corner office and the governor’s mansion. More here.

BUT HIS STAFFERS WERE ALLOWED TO GO TO SUNDANCE? http://bit.ly/IUmOdd

FIRST IN SUNBURN: REP. JEFF BRANDES’ NEWEST CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL. Jeff Brandes. Veteran. Businessman. Problem Solver. Watch here.

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS TERM LIMITS FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Backing away from a position it took a decade ago, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that voters can impose term limits on county commissioners. … Justices upheld term limits that Broward and Sarasota County residents placed on their commissioners in recent years. In doing so, the court also retreated from a 2002 ruling that blocked term limits for other offices, such as clerks of court.

‘THE MOST SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL CHANGE IN SARASOTA COUNTY SINCE IT BECAME A CHARTER COUNTY’

The Florida Supreme Court ruled today that term limits for county commissioners are OK, likely ending Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton’s bid for re-election. … He has been running for a fourth term in office and the court’s ruling will probably make him ineligible. Two other Sarasota County commissioners who have had more than two terms in office, Nora Patterson and Joe Barbetta, have previously said they have no plans to run again.

JAX CITY COUNCIL CHAIR ENDORSES MIKE WEINSTEIN IN KEY STATE SENATE RACE

Jacksonville City Council President Stephen Joost announced his endorsement yesterday of Mike Weinstein for the Florida State Senate.  Joost cited Weinstein’s longtime ties to the Jacksonville community and proven track record of economic development success as what Jacksonville needs in a State Senator.

JOHN WOOD HOLDS BIG LEAD IN CAMPAIGN DONATION FOR DISTRICT 41 HOUSE RACE

Florida House District 41 — formerly District 65 — looks to be the district in Polk County with the most competitors, but in campaign collections it is a runaway for incumbent John Wood, R-Winter Haven, reports the Lakeland Ledger. … Wood collected $99,780 by the end of March, according to his campaign finance report. Lindsey collected $2,079. Welzel will not be required to file a report until the next reporting date, July 13. Wood is in a Republican primary Aug. 14 with John Lindsey of Winter Haven. The winner will face Democrat Karen Welzel of Winter Haven, who entered the race last month.

FORMER STATE REP. ADAM FETTERMAN TO RUN FOR NEW ST. LUCIE COUNTY HOUSE SEAT DISTRICT 84

MAYBE CASINOS IN ORLANDO WOULD IMPROVE THE PLACE

Isn’t it supposed to be the casinos, not Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that attract the porn, asks Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News. That’s not what happened in Orlando, just named by Men’s Health Magazine as the Smuttiest City in America. … It’s true. Without a roll of the dice or the ka-ching of a single slot machine, Orlando looked up one day and realized it had become Gomorrah. … With apologies to Mickey and Minnie, I think maybe it’s time for the folks at www.NoCasinos.orgto rethink their motive for keeping casinos out of Florida. That family-friendly postcard they see in their dreams disappeared somewhere between the time Walt Disney World closed down Pleasure Island and grad-trippers discovered they could beer-binge their way around Epcot.

EMAIL I DIDN’T OPEN: Fwd: Bill Cosby on the Trayvon Martin Shooting

BILL CLINTON IN JACKSONVILLE ON FRIDAY: Former President Bill Clinton will speak at an invitation-only appearance Friday around 11 a.m. at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Mayor Alvin Brown will host the appearance at an event his office described as “focused on jobs, the economy and taking Jacksonville to the next level.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GREAT FRIEND ALAN SUSKEY. Friends of the Pinellas-based lobbyist are gathering at Salt Rock Grill on Friday to wish Alan a happy birthday and say goodbye to him and his wife as they prepare to move to Tallahassee.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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