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Sunburn for 5/23: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on May 23, 2012

A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

THE HIGHEST PRAISE FOR SUNBURN: “This is amazing.” — Politico’s Alexander Burns. Considering that Politico’s ‘Morning Score’, which Burns co-authors, is the model for SUNBURN, this compliment means a lot.

MORE KIND WORDS: “Great stuff this morning…” – Vivian Myrtetus

WAPO POLL: OBAMA 49%, ROMNEY 46%

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in a dead heat over who could fix the country’s economic problems, 47% to 47%. … When asked where they stand financially compared with when Obama took office, 30% say they are worse off, and only 16% say they are better off. … “There is not a widespread sense that things would be better had Romney been president for the past three-plus years, but for the incumbent it is a critical measure. On this question, Obama’s numbers continue to resemble those of George H.W. Bush, who lost his bid for reelection in 1992 amid a flagging economy.”

In a general election match up, Obama still leads Romney, 49% to 46%.

A new poll released by Quinnipiac University Polling shows Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama in Florida 47% to 41%, a near-shock poll that should ring alarm bells at Obama’s headquarters in Chicago.

ROVE’S CROSSROADS GPS ORG. LAUNCHES SECOND AD IN FLORIDA TO “FRAME DEBATE ON DEBT, ECONOMY & TAXES”

Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS) announced a new issue ad that will run for three weeks on TV in Florida to “frame the debate on jobs, the economy, taxes and government debt.”

The new ad, “Basketball,” will air in Florida for a total buy of $2.3 million starting on Wednesday, May 23.  The spot, which can be viewed here, detailswhat a press release says is “the Obama Administration’s poor results on fixing the troubled economy, cutting the debt, keeping taxes low and other key issues.”

MORNING MUST-READ #1: THE NEW REPUBLIC – WILL A LONGTIME FRIEND OF MARCO RUBIO’S COMPROMISE HIS LARGER AMBITIONS?

“David Rivera also happens to be Marco Rubio’s closest friend in politics. And, during the course of their friendship of 20 years, he has been instrumental in Rubio’s rapid rise from West Miami commissioner to U.S. senator. A Republican colleague in the Florida House describes their relationship as ‘one step below blood.’ As a result, if Rubio makes it on to the Republican ticket, questions about his dog may be the least of his problems.” In-depth story here. Be sure to check out the quote from Sunburn reader, Dr. Darryl Paulson.

MORNING MUST-READ #2 – CAPUTO, A. SMITH: LEMIEUX’S AGGRESSIVE CAMPAIGN FOR 2009 SENATE SEAT A WINDOW INTO HIS AMBITION

“How LeMieux pulled it off — tapped to serve a vacant Senate seat in 2009 by a governor who had reservations about his former chief of staff — speaks volumes about LeMieux’s ambition, savvy and knack for bare-knuckle politics that’s again playing out as he campaigns to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson,” write Marc Caputo and Adam Smith.

–LeMieux allies created an anonymous website attacking Delaney.

–”I’ve got to salute him. He was playing politics, and the rest of us weren’t,” Delaney said of LeMieux. “We were playing by Marquess of Queensbury rules. He got what he wanted.”

–”Mel thought Charlie was going to appoint me,” said Jim Smith. “As Charlie does, he gave Mel the perfect answer: ‘Don’t worry about it, Mel.’ … Probably everybody he had a conversation with or talked to, believed he was going to be appointed. Charlie’s a master at that.”

–LeMieux was adamant that he deserved an interview, however, and met with Greer and Crist’s chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg, at 1 a.m. at a Tallahassee Whataburger.

–”If that rumor comes true about Crist running for governor as a Democrat,” former Secretary of State Smith said, “a real good ad might be to have six or seven of us each say to the camera, ‘Charlie told me he was going to appoint me to the U.S. Senate.’ Then it would end with, ‘Can you believe anything Charlie Crist says?’ “

LEMIEUX, CRIST: NO PRESSURE WAS APPLIED FOR SENATE APPOINTMENT

George LeMieux’s campaign called allegations he used improper influence to get then Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint him to the Senate “ridiculous and categorically false.” … After declining to comment for the original Tribune story, Charlie Crist told the paper that the accusations Greer made were false, and a “pattern of delusional statements and outright lies.”

“I appointed George LeMieux because I thought he would serve well the people of Florida,” Crist said yesterday.

By the way, good news for Adam Smith and the rest of his colleagues at the Times: The newspaper is ending the temporary 5 percent pay reduction put in place last September. The change takes effect Monday, July 2, and will show up in paychecks on Friday, July 13.

DOES JESSICA EHRLICH EMBODY THE FUTURE OF FLORIDA DEMOCRATS?

She is young. She is bright. She is good looking. She is experienced in government. She is Jessica Ehrlich. And, as Dave Trotter points out in the blog post of the day, “(if) Ehrlich wins the primary, she can be the mold of what Democrats need in order to build a stronger party in Florida. She is the complete package. Obviously EMILY’s List and Steny Hoyer is taking her seriously. So should the rest of the Democratic Party in Florida.”

Reminder: House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer will be in St. Petersburg on Wednesday morning to campaign with Ehrlich.

ALAN GRAYSON REACHES OUT TO PUERTO RICANS IN NEW BID FOR CONGRESS

Alan Grayson, a favorite of the left who catapulted onto the national radar during his one term in Congress, officially kicked off his campaign to go back to Washington on Tuesday with a nod to the large Puerto Rican community he may need to get elected. … Grayson was scheduled to be joined at an event in Kissimmee Tuesday evening by Puerto Rico’s representative in Congress Pedro Pierluisi for his campaign kickoff.

CENTRAL FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE VAL DEMMINGS FORMS JOINT FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE WITH OTHER NOTABLE FEMALE DEMS

Congressional candidate Val Demings is joining Christie Vilsack of Iowa and Tammy Duckworth Illinois in a joint fundraising committee dubbed Off the Sidelines: IA-IL-FL. Joint fundraising committees may distribute money they raise to any or all of their participants, so long as contributions to those participants adhere to federal limits. Via Politico Influence.

FMR. SEC. OF STATE KURT BROWNING: VOTER PURGE WAS RICK SCOTT’S IDEA

The latest push to vet state voter rolls for non-citizens was Gov. Rick Scott’sidea, according to former Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who told the Associated Press for a story Tuesday that checking the rolls for ineligible voters was necessary because “people lie.”

SCOTT’S OFFICE HEAVILY INVOLVED IN FCAT PR REPORT

As the Florida Department of Education tries to handle the fallout of the collapse in FCAT writing scores, the office of Gov. Rick Scott has been intimately involved in efforts to roll out the test scores, according to staff emails.

Showing an interest often reserved for issues like economic development, one of the governor’s priorities, Scott’s top staff has played a key role in coordinating the state’s response after a dramatic drop in test scores prompted a scramble by officials to temporarily lower the passing grade on the writing portion of the assessment.

At one point, the governor’s communications team and Carrie O’Rourke, a deputy chief of staff who handles education issues, made extensive comments and suggestions about a press release announcing reading and math scores.

SELECT COMMITTEE ON FLORIDA POLYTECH MEETS TODAY

The Board of Governor’s Select Committee on Florida Polytechnic University meets Wednesday in Daytona Beach. The agenda includes an overview of SB 1994, the legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott that authorizes the timetable for splitting the university off from the University of South Florida. Board of Governors General Counsel Vikki Shirley discusses governance and legal issues, BOG CFO Tim Jones discusses finance, facilities and operations, and panel members will get an update on new campus construction.

ALL TOLD, LEGISLATIVE LOBBYISTS HAULED IN $36 MILLION DURING 1ST QTR.

Legislative lobbyists collected an estimated $36 million during the first three months of 2012, an increase of about $3 million over the same period last year, according to a report dated Tuesday on the Legislature’s website. The increase likely stems, at least in part, from the earlier start of this year’s legislative session because of redistricting. The session started in January and ended in March, roughly two months ahead of the usual schedule. Among the biggest spenders on lobbyists were AT&T, with an estimated $1.161 million, and firms linked to Miami casino backer Genting, with $445,000, according to the report. Lobbyists were required to submit compensation totals last week, and the new report aggregated those numbers. The numbers are not exact, however, because lobbyists report much of their compensation in dollar ranges.

ROD SMITH: ‘I PROMISE’ MARIA SACHS WILL BEAT ELLYN BOGDANOFF IN SD34

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith says the state Senate District 34 race between Democratic Sen. Maria Sachs and Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff is the Democrats’ top Senate priority this year and he’s promising that Sachs will win, reports George Bennett.  

“The number one race and focus is right here in Maria Sachs. Number one for the state. Whatever it takes, however long it takes, whatever the work is, we’re going to to do it because we’re going to win this race,” Smith told about 120 Sachs supporters Monday night in West Delray.

Smith added: “And that’s what’s going to happen down here, I promise.”

The Palm Beach Post‘s George Bennett describes this as Rod Smith’s ‘Joe Namath moment’.

OUR POLITICAL AD WATCH DISCUSSES AARON BEAN’S NEW JEB-CENTRIC TV AD

A group is hitting the airwaves with a new ad in support of GOP state Senate candidate Aaron Bean, reports Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union. … The video is from a Jacksonville rally former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined for Bean in November. “I’m very proud of principle-centered leaders like Aaron Bean,” said Bush, who is shown standing behind a podium at the event. … The video was paid for by the Florida Liberty Foundation of Florida and was cut by the Adam Goodman-led Victory Group.

Our Political Ad Watch (P.A.W.) club weighs in with opinions from Abel Harding, Dave Trotter, etc., here.

FUTURE SPEAKER CHRIS DORWORTH DRAWS A PRIMARY OPPONENT

House Speaker Designate Chris Dorworth is facing a primary run-off against John Moffitt, the treasurer of the Republican Party of Seminole County. … Reached by phone, Moffitt didn’t say why he launched a campaign against the powerful incumbent.

WEATHERFORD, DORWORTH, CORCORAN HEADLINING FUNDRAISER FOR JANET ADKINS IN HD 11

The next three speakers of the House - Will Weatherford, Chris Dorworth, and Richard Corcoran – are headlining a fundraiser for Janet Atkins’s campaign at the University Club of Jacksonville on June 12.  Invite here (h/t to Matt Dixon)

NY TIMES ARTICLE MAY EXPLAIN WHY DAN GELBER REALLY DOESN’T LIKE NEGATIVE DIRECT MAIL

“In Florida’s 2010 election, the federation supplied $255,000 to finance an organization that paid for advertising against Dan Gelber, who was running for attorney general and had opposed state financing for private schools,” reports the New York Times.

“The ads, mailed to Jewish neighborhoods, called Mr. Gelber “toxic to Jewish education.” His staff found out about them from his 11-year-old daughter, who called the office in tears after finding an ad in their mailbox.”

FLORIDA’S HOUSING MARKET SHOWS MORE POSITIVE SIGNS IN APRIL

Florida’s housing market had increased pending sales and higher median prices in April, along with a greatly reduced inventory of homes and condos for sale, according to Florida Realtors’ latest housing data.

SMART FOLKS TALKING

Steve Schale, Nadine Smith and John Stemberger are part of a panel discussion led by Orlando’s 6 News anchor Lauren Rowe on the topic of gay marriage and how it will affect upcoming elections. Watch here.

CATCHING UP WITH KATHERINE HARRIS

For someone who enjoyed the spotlight as much as former congresswoman Katherine Harris seemed to, she’s been remarkably low-key of late — that is, if you don’t count that palatial waterfront mansion she’s constructing in Florida. Read more here.

HILLSBOROUGH CO. PROPERTY APPRAISER SENDS PORN TO HR DIRECTOR, THEN FIRES HER

Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner admits he repeatedly sent pornography to his human resources director, a woman he fired Monday. … turner said he fired Carolyn Filippone, a long-time employee of the public agency, for making false sexual discrimination claims about him to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a complaint that included his porn sharing.

RANDOM ENDORSEMENT OF THE DAY: Nassau County State Attorney’s Office Director Wesley White Endorses Mike Weinstein for Florida State Senate. Really? The Office Director at the State Attorney’s office?

Our friends at Core Message are currently looking for star interns this summer. For more information, click here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I had to convince the Senate it wasn’t witchcraft” – State Rep. Jeff Brandes, describing his efforts to convince his legislative colleagues to approve testing of driverless cars.

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