A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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THE MASTER SPEAKS: “I have read SUNBURN from the very beginning. It was good then and it is getting better every day. It is quickly becoming indispensable to anyone who has an interest in Florida politics.” — Dr. Darryl Paulson
NY TIMES’ NATE SILVER: FUNDAMENTALS FAVOR ROMNEY IN FLORIDA
“The first look at the 2012 FiveThirtyEight presidential forecast has Barack Obama as a very slight favorite to win re-election,” writes blogger Nate Silver.
But if Obama is to win re-election, he may have to do without Florida. … “Taken by itself, however, Florida may be a less valuable prize than usual. Right now, the polls there show almost an exact tie. But the model views Florida as leaning toward Mr. Romney, for several reasons.”
“First, the polls showing a tie there were mostly conducted among registered voters rather than likely voters. Republicans typically improve their standing by a point or two when polling firms switch from registered voter to likely voter polls, probably because Republican voters are older, wealthier, and otherwise have demographic characteristics that make them more reliable bets to turn out. The model anticipates this pattern and adjusts for it, bolstering Mr. Romney’s standing by a point or two whenever it evaluates a registered-voter poll.”
“In addition, the fundamentals somewhat favor Mr. Romney in Florida. The state has been somewhat Republican-leaning in the past, and its economy is quite poor. Mr. Romney has raised more money than Mr. Obama there, and its demographics are not especially strong for Mr. Obama. The model considers these factors in addition to the polls in each state. In the case of Florida, they equate to Mr. Romney having about a 60 or 65 percent chance of winning it, and Mr. Obama probably has easier paths to 270 electoral votes.”
>>>Purple Strategies poll: Romney 49%, Obama 45%
PPP POLL: CONNIE MACK 34%, GEORGE LEMIEUX 13%…
Dave Weldon’s late entry has had little initial impact on the Republican contest for the Senate in Florida. Connie Mack IV continues to be the clear leader with 34% to 13% for George LeMieux and 10% for Mike McCalister, with Weldon starting out at only 6% in the polls.
Mack continues to be the only candidate with any sort of name recognition. 53% of Republican primary voters have an opinion about him. LeMieux’s at 31% and McCalister and Weldon are both known to less than 20% of the likely electorate.
Mack is winning easily with every segment of the electorate. He’s pulling in similar numbers with men, women, moderates and conservatives, and is especially strong with seniors.
…BUT BILL NELSON’S UP 13 POINTS OVER MACK
Winning the Republican primary in the US Senate race may prove to be a shallow victory anyway. Bill Nelson continues to lead all of his opponents by double digits, as has consistently been the case in PPP’s polling on the contest. He’s up 13 on both Mack and LeMieux at 49-36 and 48-35 respectively, 47-33 on McCalister, and 47-31 on Weldon.
RICK SCOTT: WISCONSIN IS A VALIDATION OF MY PRIORITIES
Rick Scott tells Newsmax.TV that the victory of his Wisconsin counterpart, Scott Walker, in a recall election validates his own policies in the Sunshine State, and says that it may even be a bellwether for the November election between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
“Absolutely” it’s a validation, declared Scott in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “What we know now is that if you run on a campaign of fiscal responsibility, making your state a business-friendly state, reducing taxes, reducing regulations, putting people in place that are going to be pro-business — because that’s where jobs get created, by businesses, then the public’s going to support you.”
IF YOU WONDER WHY GOV. SCOTT HAS A 31% APPROVAL RATING
Whether you agree with Rick Scott or not, ask yourself this: what does he hope to accomplish, politically speaking, out of the voter purge? Just look at this barrage of headlines.
Florida Election Laws: Feds Talk Straight Lakeland Ledger editorial … Editorial: Returns shaky for state Palm Beach Post editorial … A Floridian horror story PNJ Editorial … Judge stops assault on democracy Tampa Tribune editorial … Purge the purge list Miami Herald editorial … Feds step in to protect Florida voters Tampa Bay Times editorial … Reprieve for voter drives Sarasota Herald Tribune editorial
PAULA DOCKERY ON A BETTER WAY ENSURE ACCURATE VOTER ROLLS
“We can all agree that we want our voter rolls to be as accurate as possible, eliminating non-citizens and voters that have died,” writes Sen. Dockery in an op-ed for Florida Voices. “Where the disagreement begins is in the manner that this is accomplished. If the state seeks to remove someone, shouldn’t it be certain the individual was registered improperly? Shouldn’t this be initiated through the 67 locally elected supervisors of election, who are constitutional officers? And shouldn’t this be done in a non-election year and in a non-redistricting year? “
OP-ED: NEW DISTRICTS ARE STILL GERRYMANDERED — Orlando Sentinel‘s Scott Maxwell
“Let’s start with Corrine Brown’s infamous congressional district. … A district that used to stretch 160 miles from northern Jacksonville to southern Orlando now runs … more than 160 miles from northern Jacksonville to southern Orlando. … That’s Florida’s version of “reform.”
FDLE OPENS INVESTIGATION OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement began an investigation Thursday into the filing of campaign papers by three Supreme Court justices, a spokeswoman for the agency confirmed.
The investigation follows calls from Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Scott in April asking for FDLE to look into reports that the judges had court employees notarize two documents in a last-minute scramble to file papers necessary to make sure the trio appeared on the ballot. Scott later forwarded the letter to FDLE without ordering the agency to begin a probe. Conservatives unhappy with the liberal bent of the court’s majority have made it clear they will try to oust Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in retention elections this November.
FIRST ON SAINTPETERSBLOG: WEATHERFORD NAMES KATHY MEARS CHIEF OF STAFF & RYAN DUFFY AS DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford on Thursday named Kathy Mears as his chief of staff and Ryan Duffy as communications director.
Mears most recently has worked as vice president of On 3 Public Relations in Tallahassee but earlier served as a top aide to former House Speaker Daniel Webster and former Senate presidents Tom Lee and Ken Pruitt. Mears also worked as a deputy chief of staff and legislative director for former Gov. Charlie Crist. Duffy serves as press secretary for leadership in the House and also previously worked as a speechwriter for former Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.
“Kathy is a true professional with invaluable experience in the highest levels of state government and the private sector,” Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said in a news release. “As my chief of staff, she will play a central role in helping the Florida House develop solutions to address the many challenges facing our state. Ryan has served with excellence on the House communications team, and he will do great work with (the) press and public to keep them informed and us accountable.”
>>>The Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities meets Friday in Orlando. The agenda will include commissioner dialogue with businesses, committee reports, and discussion of policy recommendations for the first report to the governor.
>>>Lawyers for the state faces a deadline to fill its first brief in support of a law requiring public employees to contribute 3 percent of their incomes toward their retirement funds. The state is appealing a ruling by Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford barring the state from requiring those contributions by employees hired before July 1, 2011.
>>>The State Board of Administration holds a meeting to review the criteria for the qualifications of the Audit Committee members and to discuss the fourth quarter Board of Trustee’s report.
***A special message about KEVIN CATE COMMUNICATIONS. I’ve called Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want www.CateComm.com on your side.***
US REPS CORRINE BROWN, JAMES CLYBURN CAMPAIGN FOR AL LAWSON IN CD 2
Democratic congressional candidate Al Lawson was the beneficiary Thursday of a fundraiser in Washington attended by U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Florida and James Clyburn of South Carolina. The high profile support from congressional Democrats may spell trouble for state Rep. Leonard Bembry, D-Greenville, Jay Liles and Alvin Peters, three other Democrats who qualified this week to run in the 2nd District, with the winner of the Democratic primary taking on incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, the freshman Republican from Panama City.
CD 3: OELRICH QUALIFIES, BUT NOT WITH PETITIONS
State Sen. Steve Oelrich notified the Division of Elections that he intended to qualify for a run in the new 3 rd Congressional District by turning in the required 2,300 or so signatures, but went ahead and paid the fee to qualify on Thursday. The division lists him as qualified, but notes that he’s only turned in 132 signatures, far short of the 2,298 required.
U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, an Ocala Republican also in the race for the seat, quickly made a campaign issue of it – particularly noting that 104 of the 132 verified signatures Oelrich has turned in came from Leon County – Tallahassee. “Embarrassingly, he collected no signatures in his long-time home county of Alachua, and only collected 19 petitions in the new District 3 in which he is running,” Stearns said in a press release. “Almost 80 percent of the petitions he managed to collect came from Tallahassee where he held a fundraiser while the state Senate was in session.” Documents on file with the state show Oelrich’s campaign treasurer wrote a $10,440 check dated Thursday for his qualifying fee.
WYMAN DUGGAN ENDORSES MIKE WEINSTEIN IN UBER-COMPETITIVE SD 4 PRIMARY
Wyman Duggan, former candidate for the Florida State Senate District 4, announced his endorsement of Mike Weinstein for the Florida State Senate today, citing Weinstein’s commitment to the community and his history of job creation as some of the reasons why he supports Weinstein.
“”I am honored and humbled by the favorable response I have received from the citizens of Northeast Florida. They care deeply about this community and its future and that is why I support Mike Weinstein. His commitment to the community and his history of job creation make him the best candidate for State Senate. I am asking everyone who supported me to throw your support behind Mike Weinstein,” said Duggan.
FRANKLY, FARKAS ATTEMPTING RETURN TO THE FLORIDA HOUSE
Former Rep. Frank Farkas has qualified to run for an open House seat in Pinellas County.
Farkas served in the House from 1998 to 2006 before losing a bid for the Senate. He will run in newly drawn District 68, which became open when Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, qualified to run for the Senate. Farkas will face St. Petersburg Republican Daryle Hamel in the Aug. 14 primary election. Brandes also will face a primary fight in Senate District 22, as Rep. Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg, has qualified for that race.
KEVIN RADER DROPS BID FOR SENATE, WILL RUN FOR HD 81 INSTEAD
Democrats Marck Bernard and Jeff Clemens may end up in a two-way primary for Senate District 27 in Palm Beach County, with former Rep. Kevin Rader saying he’s going to run for a House seat. Rader had been planning to run for the open Senate seat, but told the Palm Beach Post this week that instead he’s going to challenge Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton, who is running in House District 81. As of Thursday afternoon, Rader hadn’t qualified, but told the Post he planned to do so before the noon, Friday deadline.
DEMOCRATIC FIRST-TIME CANDIDATE ROSS HANCOCK TO CHALLENGE ERIK FRESEN
Democratic first-time candidate Ross Hancock has qualified by petition for State House District 114 in Coral Gables, where he will challenge Republican incumbent Erik Fresen.
“Bipartisan opposition to casino growth in this newly drawn district is strong,” said Hancock. “In fact, 35% of our petitions were signed by non-Democrats. And of that group, most are Republicans unhappy with Representative Fresen’s sponsorship of expanded gambling.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Flling for legislative office should be allowed on the local level. I think only filing in Tallahassee is sponsored by FedEx,” Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, joked on Twitter before qualifying on Thursday.
>>>The Florida Education Association has recommended Representative Jeff Clemens for State Senate, District 27.
>>>Mary Lou Ambrose qualified in District 66, setting up an interesting primary vs. Joanne Kennedy.
>>>Rep. Kevin Rader dropped out of the race for SD 27, clearing the field for Mack Bernard and Jeff Clemens.
CORRECTION: Yesterday, in a SPOTTED blurb, I mixed-up Congressman Tom Rooney with his brother State Rep. Pat Rooney. Which one is the good-looking one?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY this weekend to uber lobbyist and my ol’ student government colleague Nick Iarossi.