STARTING THE DAY WITH BIRTHDAY WISHES: Two very good friends and great men celebrate their birthdays today, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and Tampa rising star Tony DeSisto. Happy birthday, gentlemen.
NBC NATIONAL POLL: OBAMA 47%, ROMNEY 44%
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds President Obama has managed to retain a narrow lead over Mitt Romney in his race for re-election despite a spate of bad economic news and surging GOP optimism, 47% to 44%.
“The poll highlights challenges facing both candidates. While Mr. Obama retains a durable base of support, his standing among white, working-class voters, which was low to start with, continues to erode. Interest in the campaign isn’t nearly as intense as it was four years ago among young people and Latinos, who were important to Mr. Obama’s victory in 2008.”
“At the same time, more people viewed Mr. Romney unfavorably than favorably by a 6-point margin, with nearly one-quarter of those polled viewing him ‘very negatively,’ twice the level found in December. Mr. Romney’s business background, which he has made a central element of his candidacy, is a draw for many, the poll found. But it is viewed negatively by even more people.”
OBAMA IN MIAMI
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama raised millions of dollars for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties, during two high-dollar fundraisers in South Florida, reports Alex Sanz.
At The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, an estimated crowd of 1,500 people attended a sold out, up to $5,000-per-person fundraiser headlined by salsa singer Marc Anthony.
His speech, according reporters, was punctuated by approving asides from enthusiastic audience members, including one woman who replied, “You are!” when Obama reminded supporters in 2008 that he was not a perfect man and would not be a perfect president.
Earlier in the evening, Obama attended a private fundraiser at the upscale Miami Beach home of prominent Democratic fundraisers Abigail and F.J. Pollak.
Thirty people spent $40,000 per person to attend the fundraiser.
Obama was greeted at Miami International Airport by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, members of the Miami-Dade County Commission and several grassroots supporters.
SWING STATES LIKE FLORIDA HIT HARDEST IF OBAMACARE OVERTURNED
The Hill highlights new data showing that “Several key swing states would be hit especially hard if the Supreme Court strikes down President Obama’s healthcare reform law.”
“If the court throws out the entire law, about 22.4 million people who would have gotten access to insurance coverage will remain uninsured… Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Michigan would each see more than 500,000 people lose access to Medicaid or subsidized private insurance… Neither benefit is in place yet, as the bulk of the Affordable Care Act does not take effect until 2014. No one would lose coverage they already have — rather, some would not gain coverage they were set to receive.”
>>>The Daily Beast uncovers some hard-to-believe facts about the nation’s highest court.
JEB BUSH: ‘WE SHOULD BE THE PARTY OF FREE THINKING’
Jeb Bush, writing in National Review Online, expands upon the Big Tent philosophy he hinted at in his recent comments about Ronald Reagan and his father likely finding difficulty relating to today’s Republican Party.
“[W]e must not layer onto our fundamental beliefs thick black lines of ideology,” writes Bush … “Those black lines can be comforting, I understand. … But they also restrict the way we think about problems, and make more difficult the kind of reform-minded free thinking that has defined the conservative movement for the last 50 years. Thick black lines of ideology are good at keeping people in, but they are also good at keeping people out. And our party can’t win if we keep people out. Our goal is not to assemble a small army of purists. We need a nation of converts.”
PERSONNEL NOTE: PAM STEVENS NAMED DEP. PRESS SECRETARY FOR GOP CONVENTION
Pam Stevens — former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for Condi Rice, Director of TV for the Bush White House, longtime CNN producer and most recently a producer for MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell — joins the GOP convention as the Deputy Press Secretary.
JUDGE TO HEAR ARGUMENTS ON VOTER PURGE
A federal judge who struck down part of a controversial state elections law will hold a hearing Wednesday morning on whether to issue a temporary restraining order in a separate case concerning a state-ordered voter purge, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.
Wednesday’s arguments will mark the first major courtroom battle in a complicated legal fight over the purge. The Justice Department has sued the state over the initiative, saying it violates the National Voter Registration Act and that Florida should have sought permission from federal officials.
In its brief in the purge case, the Department of Justice argues that the voter purge runs afoul of a provision of the NVRA that bars removing voters from the rolls for all but a handful of reasons in the 90 days before a federal election. The state’s primaries are scheduled for Aug. 14.
“In light of the foregoing, the state cannot ignore the requirements of the NVRA simply because it disagrees with the balance Congress struck between the need for accurate and current voter rolls and protections to prevent harms to voters caused by voter removal programs,” the filing says.
SCOTT NOTES MACNAMARA’S TRIPLE CROWN IN FAREWELL by Bill Cotterell of the Florida Current
Gov. Rick Scott said farewell to chief of staff Steve MacNamara, presenting him the “triple crown” of Capitol clout at a reception attended by more than 150 of Tallahassee’s past and present power brokers.
“I really appreciate the triple crown,” MacNamara said, citing a plaque Scott presented to him — marking his status as the only person to serve as chief of staff to a House speaker, Senate president and governor. “I really appreciate the opportunities I’ve had in this town. I’ve had some down times, but I’ve had many, many up times.”
MacNamara said he has known 13 governors and worked for 10 administrations. Aside from the governor and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, capital insiders who braved high winds and heavy rain to get to the Senate chamber of the Old Capitol included formerFSU President Sandy d’Alemberte; Senate president-designate Don Gaetz, R-Niceville; lobbyists Mac Stipanovich, Pete Dunbar and Van Poole; Adjutant Gen. Emmett Titshawand dozens of past and current legislative and executive employees.
INCOMING SENATE PRESIDENT LOOKING TO BRING ARIZONA’S IMMIGRATION LAW TO FLORIDA
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding a key part of Arizona’s immigration law, the incoming Senate president in Florida said it wouldn’t be unlikely to see legislation here that mirrors the provision. The Supreme Court on Monday upheld a section of the law that requires police to try to determine the immigration status of people who are stopped if there’s reasonable suspicion they may here illegally. Other parts of the law – including a provision that would make it a crime for immigrants not to carry their registration papers – were thrown out.
Sen. Don Gaetz, expected to take over in November as Senate president, told the Palm Beach Post via The News Service of Florida that the part of the Arizona law that was upheld makes sense. “When someone is stopped for a DUI or speeding or anything else, it is customary for law enforcement officers to check to see if other laws have been broken or if there are outstanding warrants,” said Gaetz. “So I don’t think it’s outside the realm of reasonables that we check to determine whether someone is breaking federal law with regard to illegal alien status. Legislation filed in Florida in recent years has failed to pass, but one of the arguments against it – that its main provision would be unconstitutional – is now off the table. A measure seeking to give police the requirement for checking immigration status in Florida died in committee during the 2011 session, and no such bill moved this past year.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IN FLORIDA DROPS
Consumer confidence among Floridians sank four points this month, after jumping four points to 78 in May, according to a University of Florida survey. “In June Floridians reversed their optimism about their future finances,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “The decline was across age and income groups and did not reflect a specific policy change.” In fact, there have been recent positive trends in Florida’s housing and job market, he added.
APPEALS COURT TO HEAR ORAL ARGUMENTS ON PRISON PRIVATIZATION
The 1st District Court of Appeal hears oral arguments in the state’s appeal of a prison privatization ruling. The state is appealing a ruling by Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford that struck down a privatization plan approved by the Legislature after the Florida Police Benevolent Association sued to block the initiative. Fulford said lawmakers improperly folded the privatization plan into the fine print of the budget.
The Board of Trustees of Florida A&M University meets Wednesday in Tallahassee to discuss a “rebranding plan” for the troubled university.
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CLUB FOR GROWTH BACKING RON DESANTIS FOR CD 6
Ron DeSantis, an attorney and veteran who is running for Congress in new seat representing a district going from St. Johns County south to Volusia County on the Atlantic coast, continues to garner impressive national support. Earlier in the week, DeSantis unveiled the backing of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Ut. On Tuesday, DeSantis announced that the Club for Growth PAC is backing his congressional bid. (H/t to Kevin Derby.)
HAMMERIN’ HANK GOES TO BAT FOR LOIS FRANKEL IN CD 22
Lois Frankel isn’t in the bottom of the ninth yet, but she still brought in a big pinch hitter to help her with her fund raising in her congressional race. Hall of Fame Baseball legend, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, sent out an e-mail appeal for Frankel on Tuesday.
Former West Palm Beach Mayor Frankel is locked in a Democratic primary brawl with Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. The winner faces the well-funded Republican Adam Hasner, a former state House member.
STEVE SCHALE’S 10 MOST INTERESTING STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES
“With qualifying over, there is now a chance to look at the field as a whole and the races to watch,” writes Democratic strategist Steve Schale in the blog post of the day. “The following ten races aren’t necessarily ranked in the order of the most competitive, or the most likely to flip, but instead from my perspective, are going to be the most interesting to watch.” Here are Schale’s must-watch state legislative races (be sure to click here to read Schale’s thumbnail explanations):
10. Darren Soto v Will McBride. (Senate District 14); 9. Scott Plakon vs Karen Castor Dental (House District 30); 8. Mack Bernard vs Jeff Clemens (Dem Primary, Senate District 27); 7. Alex Diaz de la Portilla/Gus Barriero v Javier Jose Rodriguez (Primary/General, House District 112); 6. Tom Lee vs Rachel Burgin (GOP primary, Senate District 24); 5. Dwight Dudley v Frank Farkas (House District 68); 4. Jeff Brandes v Jim Frishe (GOP primary, Senate District 22); 3. Mike Weinstein vs Aaron Bean (GOP primary, Senate District 4); 2. Frank Bruno vs Dorothy Hukill (Senate District 8); 1. Maria Sachs v Ellyn Bogdanoff (Senate District 34).
FIRST COAST LEADERS VOICE SUPPORT FOR AARON BEAN…
Aaron Bean announced that Mayor Stan Totman of Baldwin, Vice Mayor Kara Tucker of Neptune Beach, and Nassau County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller John Crawford have endorsed him in his candidacy for the newly-drawn Florida Senate District 4 seat.
…WHILE NORTHEAST FLORIDA BUILDERS ASSOC. THROWS SUPPORT TO MIKE WEINSTEIN
Joining other business organizations such as the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Florida, the Northeast Florida Builders Association endorsed Representative Mike Weinstein for the State Senate. The Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) cited Weinstein’s experience in job creation as one of the many reasons for their support.
“We are excited to support Mike Weinstein for the Florida State Senate and looking forward to him as he bringing his knowledge and experience of our industry to the Senate. We also feel his experience in job creation and executive management will be an asset to all citizens of this great state,” said Rick Morales, Chairman of the Political Action Committee for the Northeast Florida Builders Association.
GWEN MARGOLIS SWEEPING ENDORSEMENTS FOR HER RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN