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Sunburn for 6/20: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on June 20, 2012

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

***Today’s Sunburn brought to you by Florida Poly Vision, Inc.  To learn the facts about Florida’s new university, Florida Polytechnic University, and the growing group of supporters that make up Poly Vision, visit www.floridapolyvision.com, like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FLPolyVision) and follow us on Twitter @FLPolyVision.***

MARCO NOT BEING VETTED FOR VP…

Knowledgeable Republican sources told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that Marco Rubio is not being vetted by Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search team. He has not been asked to complete any questionnaires or been asked to turn over any financial documents typically required of potential vice presidential candidates.

“Although it is possible that Rubio may yet be asked to go through the vetting process, it has been nearly two months since Romney named his long-time aide Beth Myers to run his vice presidential search,” reports Karl. “The fact that Rubio has not been asked to turn over any documents by now is a strong indication that he is not on Romney’s short list of potential running mates.”

…OR IS HE?

Despite reports to the contrary, Romney told the media that Rubio is being “thoroughly vetted as part of our process” to select a vice presidential running mate.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s been an interesting day.” — Rubio on Greta Van Sustern’s show.

UNNECESSARY QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on. I’m not going to comment on the process of course, but I can tell you this: only Beth Myers and I know who is being vetted.” — Romney, quoted by NBC News, on his search for a vice presidential running mate.

MARC CAPUTO SIZES UP THE CRAZY DAY: “Republicans and conservatives, particularly those in must-win Florida, felt Romney’s advisers had disrespected Rubio. Democrats had a field day,” explains Caputo. … “Though it probably won’t affect the campaign in the longterm, the one-day messaging crisis could serve as a wake-up call to the campaign.”

“Perhaps it’s a lesson for the Romney campaign to shore up any leaks,” said Brian Hughes, a Republican consultant and former spokesman for the state GOP.

DEMS CHANCES OF TAKING US HOUSE DIM

Democratic hopes of recapturing the House are dimming as a series of race-by-race setbacks and economic uncertainty suggest that the 25 seats they need to net might be out of reach.

The Hill projects that Democrats will net somewhere between 10 and 15 seats, assuming the presidential election remains a close contest.

SHELDON ADELSON GIVES $1 MILLION TO SUPER-PAC BACKING CONNIE MACK

Sheldon Adelson is giving $1 million to the super PAC backing Rep. Connie Mack in his Senate bid in Florida, a source familiar with the donation said according to Politico’s Maggie Haberman.

FREEDOMWORKS BACKS MACK, BASHES LEMIEUX

National conservative organization FreedomWorks announced thats its PAC was backing U.S. Rep. Connie Mack for the Republican nomination to challengeBill Nelson.

“FreedomWorks PAC believes that a candidate’s proven record, not rhetoric, is the best indicator of future action,” said Max Pappas, the executive director of FreedomWorks PAC, before taking aim at one of Mack’s primary rivals — former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. “ And when you compare Connie Mack’s record to George LeMieux’s record, it’s a night and day difference.

“George LeMieux boastfully identified himself as a ‘Charlie Christ Republican’ while he worked with Democrats to advance subsidies, environmental mandates and multiple bills expanding the authority of government,” continued Pappas.

CHRIS CHRISTIE COULD BE KEYNOTER IN TAMPA

“Even before it became clear that Mitt Romney would be the GOP presidential nominee, many wondered whether his most outspoken surrogate, Gov. Chris Christie, was angling for an invitation to run for vice president,” the Newark Star Ledger reports.

“But there’s another high-profile role that could exploit the Garden State governor’s talents and catapult him in the minds of Republican voters already surveying the 2016 field: keynote speaker at the GOP Convention in Tampa.”

ANOTHER RON PAUL GATHERING PLANNED FOR RNC

There are now two groups of Ron Paul supporters working to organize big festivals just before the Republican National Convention in August.

The Tampa Tribune previously reported on plans for a festival at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Paul fans want to celebrate the libertarian icon and three-time Republican presidential candidate – even if he doesn’t show up himself.

Now, Freedom Festival 2012 is being planned for Fantasy of Flight in Polk County. The main focus, however, is expected to be less on Paul and more on the U.S. Constitution.

Both would take place Aug. 24 to 26, ending just before the RNC starts at the Forum in downtown Tampa.

LOCAL HOST COMMITTEE STILL SHY OF GOAL FOR RNC FUNDING

With just over two months to go before the Republican National Convention arrives in Tampa, the local host committee has raised about 80 percent of the $55 million it needs to stage the event, committee president Ken Jones said Tuesday.

PALM BEACH POST EDITORIAL: POLITICAL WITCH HUNT THREATENS FLORIDA’S SUPREME COURT

The most important election in Florida may take place far down the ballot and involve people unfamiliar to most voters. But a vital principle will be at stake.

The candidates are Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince, all justices of the Florida Supreme Court. They don’t have opponents. Under Florida’s merit retention system, justices face a yes-no referendum when their six-year terms expire.

… Under Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, the justices can say little in their defense. They must hope that enough voters understand this threat to an independent judicial branch. The trip down the ballot will be worth it.

VOTER PURGE UPDATE

>>>Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner again told federal officials the state has done all that is required to access the files. In a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano  on Tuesday, Detzner said the federal agency appears to be unfairly excluding Florida election officials from accessing the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, or SAVE, database.

>>>U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle will hear arguments June 27 about whether to issue a temporary restraining order against Florida’s controversial effort to purge ineligible voters. The U.S. Department of Justice, which filed a lawsuit last week against the state, is seeking the restraining order.

WHO’S PASSING BILLS IN FLORIDA LEGISLATURE?

In-depth statistics compiled by LobbyTools research staff show…the number of bills passed has declined steadily since Gov. Jeb Bush ended his second term, as has the number of gubernatorial vetoes. Also, in recent years, the House has been sending a greater proportion of bills to the governor than the Senate.

LAWMAKERS FIRE SALVO IN PROPERTY INSURANCE WAR

More than three months after lawmakers failed to make meaningful changes to the state’s property insurance landscape, Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, and Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, released a three-part position paper they say highlights the hidden risks all insurance policyholders face in the event of a devastating storm, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

While the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. are in the best financial shape they have been in years, the pair contends that the programs’ relative health masks their vulnerability and the risks to policyholders.

NATIONAL TREND IN STATE LEGISLATURES: Turnover could be most in 50 years

Roughly half of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators could have two years or less of experience after the 2012 elections, potentially making the next crop of lawmakers the greenest in a half-century, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The high turnover, a result of the Republican surge in 2010, redistricting and term limits, comes as states struggle to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. It also reflects the divide between two political forces: ‘throw the bums out’ vs. the public’s demand to fix problems, from escalating health care costs to education funding.

POLICY NOTES

>>>AMIKids Palm Beach for juvenile offenders plans to close its doors for lack of funding, the Palm Beach Post reports.

>>>Florida International University faculty ask the state Supreme Court to overturn the state’s refusal to fund scholarly travel to Cuba, the News Service of Florida reports.

>>>Florida university leaders make the hard sell for raising tuition yet again.

>>>The Miami-Dade school district investigates a steep rise in the use of the Baker Act on students, the Miami Herald reports.

TAMPA BAY TIMES SAYS KEEP AN EYE ON: Arlene DiBenigno. She’s working with 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee executive board member Kathleen Shanahan to help promote area economic development during the RNC.

DISENFRANCHISED 

Florida lawmakers need to close the legal loophole that allows write-in candidates to close off primary elections including this year’s race for Pasco schools superintendent, the Tampa Bay Times editorializes.

***SUNBURN is brought to you by 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.***

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER BIG ENDORSEMENT FOR TOM LEE; THIS TIME IT’S CONG. DENNIS ROSS

The Tom Lee campaign announced that Congressman Dennis Ross has endorsed Tom Lee for Florida Senate in District 24.

“While I served in the Florida House, Tom Lee proved to be an outstanding leader. He never forgot his deep roots in Hillsborough County as a longtime Brandon-area resident. Alongside Jeb Bush and my Speaker Allan Bense, Tom took the reins of a bold, yet commonsense conservative agenda that aimed to improve the quality of life for families and job-creators in his community. He was a solid, homegrown conservative leader then, and he’ll be that same leader again.

“As South Hillsborough County’s Congressman, I know from that experience that if Tom Lee goes to Tallahassee as its next Senator, our constituents will be in the best of hands. I’m excited to see Tom running for Senate, and he has my full endorsement.”

ROB WALLACE’S CAMPAIGN FIGHT BROADENS by Joe Henderson of the Tampa Tribune

Voters still have the last say, though, and they have begun to show a fiercely independent streak. (John) Legg also could have a recognition problem with the people he is asking to elect him. This newly drawn Senate district includes no voters from Legg’s old House district.

So endorsements or not, anointing or not, Wallace keeps up the fight.

“They are educated voters, they know the issues, and they will look at the qualifications and make the decision,” he said. “I hope they will revolt against the Tallahassee aristocracy trying to make the decision for them. That’s how it should be.”

BIG BEND PBA MAKES LOCAL ENDORSEMENTS

Local affiliates for the Florida Police Benevolent Association announced their list of endorsements for the coming election cycle on Tuesday. The PBA Big Bend Chapter endorsed Democratic candidate Al Lawson for the U.S. House District 2 race. It also endorsed Democratic Sen. Bill Montford for state Senate District 3 and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, in House District 9. The group had no favorite in state House District 7, endorsing Republican candidate Don Curtis and Democrat Robert Hill.

HALSEY BESHEARS UP WITH NEW AD IN HD 7

The News Service of Florida reports that Beshears – or actually his daughters – are up with a folksy intro ad  letting you know he wants to take “north Florida values” to Tallahassee (which may be geographically in north Florida, but by implication here needs an injection of the area’s true values.)

Beshears is one of four  Republicans seeking the House District 7 seat, facing former Rep. Jamey Westbrook, Mike Williams and Don Curtis in the Republican primary. The winner of that primary will take on the winner of a three-way Democratic primary between Thomas Dickens, Robert Hill and A.J. Smith.

Our Political Ad Watch club weighs in on Beshear’s new ad here.

CHRIS DORWORTH A MAGNET FOR SCORN IN HD 29

Usually, Florida legislators who have been anointed by their brethren to become presiding officers don’t draw serious re-election challengers, reports Aaron DeSlatte of the Orlando Sentinel.

But Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Lake Mary Republican chosen by his fellow legislators to become House speaker in 2014, seems to be the exception to the rule – a legislative leader who has been a magnet for intra- and inter-party political heat.

The development consultant has drawn two GOP primary challengers and a serious Democratic opponent in the newly drawn House District 29 in Seminole County. Republicans John Moffitt and Jeffrey Onest have qualified to take on Dorworth, with Moffitt – the treasurer of the Republican Party of Seminole County — claiming he was doing so as a result of Dorworth’s tangled finances and questions about his income.

Democrat Michael Clelland of Lake Mary, a lawyer and retired firefighter, has also filed to run, although he reserves his barbs for the ruling Republicans’ policies in Tallahassee.

SUIT FILED TO GET COCOA MAYOR OFF BALLOT IN HD 51

A lawsuit filed in Tallahassee Tuesday seeks to have Democrat Mike Blake removed from the ballot in House District 51 because he failed to resign as mayor of Cocoa before qualifying for the House race this month, the Orlando Sentinel reported via the News Service of Florida. The lawsuit was filed by Republican lawyer Richard Coates on behalf of a registered Democratic voter in the district. Under the state resign-to-run law, candidates much quit one office when they run for another.  Election Day is Nov. 6 and if Blake were to win that’s when he would take office. Technically he’d still be mayor of Cocoa. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to remove Blake, the Sentinel reported. The district, including most of Cocoa Beach and Rockledge on the Space Coast, is generally thought to favor Republicans. Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, would be Blake’s opponent if Blake remains on the ballot.

CAMPAIGN MISCELLANY

>>>Former Gov. Bob Martinez announced his support for John Legg in SD 17

>>>Jacksonville Beach Mayor Fland Sharp endorsed Mike Weinstein for SD 4.

>>>Mike Fasano backs Jim Frishe for SD 22.

A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to ‘fixer’ Todd Josko (Come over again soon to this side of the bridge.)

HOW COULD WE MISS MARY ELLEN’S BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY? After all, she loves us so much! Best wishes to a great reporter. AND WE MISSED BRIAN HUGHES, TOO.

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: Great writer Michael Kruse tweeted the stat that 22% of Americans want Bruce Springsteen to write a new National Anthem.

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