- It’s official: Jay Fant beats Paul Renner in HD 15 by two votes
- John Morgan goes “unplugged” with NSFW rant at post-debate rally for medical marijuana
- With some Tampa Bay’ers breaking ranks, Eric Eisnaugle has all but locked up Speaker’s race
- George Sheldon accepts Pam Bondi debate challenge, then raises her
- Legislative committee schedule released
- St. Pete Chamber of Commerce announces “Good ‘Burgers” — and it has nothing to do with food
Sunburn for 7/4: A morning read of what's hot in Florida politics
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SLOW WORK WEEK? BLAME THE FOURTH OF JULY
Offices throughout the nation are similarly dark this week as a Wednesday Fourth of July (the last was in 2007) has prompted workers to take five-day weekends or an entire week of vacation. While the extra time off for vacationers could lead to increased business for grocery stores, fireworks stands and hotels, other companies are seeing the gears of industry grind to a temporary halt.
HOW ARE YOU CELEBRATING INDEPENDENCE DAY?
–Aaron Bean, legislative candidate: “To kick off the 4th of July, I will be attending the Star Spangled Banner 5K at the Main Beach Park in Fernandina Beach that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. I will then celebrate with some of the community’s great families at the Fernandina Beach 4th of July Celebration picnic, where I’m a guest speaker. My celebration will come to a close with a big evening of putt-putt. Journey Church has rented out the Putt-Putt of Fernandina Beach, which I co-own, and anyone who wants to golf can play for free! I encourage everyone to join in celebrating our independence with some free food, fun and friends!”
–Chris Dudley, lobbyist: “I am blessed to spend our country’s Independence Day with my wife and two sons on the beaches of South Walton. Enjoying perfect weather, some BBQ from an Airstream trailer, and cold Budweiser products. Freedom doesn’t get much better.”
–Dane Eagle, legislative candidate: “I’ll be celebrating our independence with over 20,000 fellow Cape Coralians at Red, White, and BOOM, one of the best festivals and fireworks display in Southwest Florida. It’s important to come together as a community on this important day to remember what this great country stands for and to honor all those who have fought and died for our freedom.
–Mike Ertel, Seminole Co. Supervisor of Elections: “We’ll be scorching hot in Seminole County tomorrow as I’ll be at four separate events hosting voter registration drives. In the morning, I’ll be walking in the Geneva July 4th parade and conducting voter registration, followed by conducting voter registration drives at Sanford’s Ft. Mellon Park and at Oviedo’s July 4th activities in the parking lot at the Oviedo Mall. I’ll be rounding out the day with a voter registration drive at Winter Springs’ Central Winds Park for their Independence Day celebration! Good times!”
–Sen. Mike Fasano: “As we celebrate the birth of our great nation let us not forget the service members who are in harm’s way to protect the freedoms our Founding Fathers gave us on July 4, 1776.”
–Ross Hancock, legislative candidate: “I will be in a parade in Cutler Bay in my Smart Car with a giant Declaration of Independence on the roof and my slogan all over the car: Declare your independence!”
–Barclay Harless, legislative aide to Rep. Darryl Rouson: “Independence Day is about having fun, going to barbecues and enjoying fireworks. Its also about looking towards the future and improving our community. That’s what the Founders did, and it is something we should all do more often. Donating to a charity or spending time with an elderly neighbor are simple efforts that pay off big when done by many.”
–Adam Hasner, congressional candidate, will be speaking at FAU’s 4th of July celebration.
–Chris Latvala: “I will be walking in the Safety Harbor Parade with my dad (Senator Jack Latvala).”
–My colleagues at ENP Interactive Website Design will be celebrating the 4th of July with a bang. ENP Interactive’s owners, Eric and Nicole, are military veterans. Eric served in the United States Navy and Nicole served in the United States Air Force. Eric and Nicole will be making an appearance in Brandon’s Fourth of July parade before heading to the beach for a relaxing day.
–Anthony Pedicini, political consultant: “I will be working at my office to elect the most conservative Republicans in the upcoming primaries.”
–Kathleen Peters, legislative candidate: “I look forward to celebrating this Independence Day with my family and many neighbors in surrounding cities. I will be enjoying the sand sculpture contest and activities in Gulfport as well as Treasure Island and then watching the fireworks in Madeira Beach with Mayor Palladeno. I wish everyone a safe and glorious Independence Day.”
LATEST POLL OF FLORIDA
President Obama leads Mitt Romney by a slim margin in Florida, according to a ‘We Ask America’ poll released Tuesday. The automated poll has the president leading Romney by a 46 to 45 percent margin. Another 8.6 percent of those polled were undecided.
A Quinnipiac University poll released at the end of June had Obama with a four-point lead over Romney in the Sunshine State.
The automated survey was conducted between July 1 and July 2, with 1,127 likely voters. The poll’s sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.
MUST-READ: OBAMA AND ROMNEY SCRAP ALONG I-4 by the Associated Press
In the presidential battleground with the biggest prize, Democrat Barack Obama is focused on ratcheting up voter turnout in Florida’s university towns, its Hispanic enclaves around Orlando and its Jewish communities in the south. Republican challenger Mitt Romney is working to squeeze as many votes as possible out of north Florida’s conservative military bastions, the senior-heavy Gulf Coast and Miami’s Cuban community.
But their strategies to energize core supporters overlap in the central Florida swing-voting region that’s key to winning the state and its 29 electoral votes. Voters along Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach, will determine the outcome if the race remains close into the fall, as expected. About 45 percent of the state’s voters live in that 17-county area.
“Neither party has enough base alone, which is why those persuadable places, particularly along the I-4 corridor, are so important,” said Steve Schale, a Democrat who ran Obama’s Florida campaign four years ago.
MOVEON.ORG (IN SPANISH) HITS ROMNEY ON RICK SCOTT’S VOTER PURGE
Politico’s Morning Score has the scoop on MoveOn.org Political Action going on Florida TV with their first Spanish-language ad of the cycle to accuse Gov. Rick Scott of disproportionately targeting Latinos with his purge of the voter rolls and to say that Romney could benefit if Latinos are prohibited from voting. It’s a five-figure buy but that will put the ad up in Miami, Orlando and Tampa from Thursday through Saturday. Here’s the translated script: “With exclusion from the voting rolls by Governor Scott, Latinos will be the most affected. And if the Latinos don’t vote, Mitt Romney wins. This exclusion is not only illegal, it’s also racist. Why doesn’t Mitt Romney disapprove?’ MoveOn has decided to make challenging voter suppression a top priority this cycle. Watch the 60-second spot here.
EVEN DAVID RIVERA IS PILING ON ROMNEY OVER IMMIGRATION
Rep. David Rivera told BuzzFeed that as long as Mitt Romney’s immigration position “remains hazy, he would refuse to act as an official surrogate to Hispanic voters.”
Said Rivera: “I’m not willing to participate in any Hispanic outreach efforts without seeing more details on a permanent solution for these kids.”
RICK SCOTT DEFENDS “OBAMACARE” STANCE ON RADIO SHOWS
Continuing a national media blitz Tuesday against last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Rick Scott fielded some penetrating questions from radio hosts about statements he’s made since the high court ruled, reports Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida.
Those included queries based on a PolitiFact review – the fact-checking website by the Tampa Bay Times – which awarded Scott a “pants on fire” and two “falses” for remarks he’s made since the ruling.
SOUTHWEST DOING WELL AT NORTHWEST
A three-year agreement that helped woo Southwest Airlines to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport worked so well that the airline agreed to terminate the pact early, officials for St. Joe Co. announced Monday. St. Joe had entered an agreement with the airline to cover up to $26 million in operating losses if traffic from the new Panama City airport proved inadequate. Southwest, which began service in 2010, accounts for more than half of the passenger totals in and out of the new facility. The airport has seen its market share grow steadily among travelers to and from the region, increasing from 9 percent in 2009 to more than 25 percent in 2012. “In every respect, the agreement with St. Joe has been a triumph,” said Bob Montgomery, Southwest vice president for airport affairs, said in a statement. “It has fulfilled its mission and achieved its intended purpose.” Southwest recently extended its lease agreement with the airport through 2015.
Arek Sarkissian has joined the Tallahassee Democrat, where he’ll cover state government in the wake of the retirement of Bill Cotterell. Sarkissian, a native of suburban Detroit, comes to the Democrat from the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana. He’s also worked for the Savannah Morning News and done free lance work for The Associated Press. He is a 2003 graduate of the University of Arizona.
–Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson pens a letter to parents saying lower school grades don’t mean their children aren’t learning, the AP reports.
–State Rep. Kelli Stargel tries to iron out some differing interpretations of her bill on student-athlete transfers, the Ledger reports.
S. FLA REPS. BILECA, GONZALEZ, NUNEZ, OLIVEA, TRUJILLO ENDORSE JEFF BRANDES FOR STATE SENATE DISTRICT 22
State Representative Jeff Brandes announced today the endorsement of Republican members of the Miami-Dade Delegation State Representatives Eddy Gonzalez, Michael Bileca, Jose Oliva, Jeanette Nuñez, and Carlos Trujillo in a sign of growing momentum and widespread support of Jeff Brandes for State Senate.
The Representatives issued the following joint statement: “Having served with Jeff Brandes in the Florida House we believe that he possesses the leadership and work ethic needed in the Senate to address the serious issues facing Floridians. Jeff will stand strong in support of innovative solutions for education and transportation. Jeff has committed to opposing any tax or fee increases and we are confident that he will continue to be a strong advocate for the consumer. We are proud to endorse Jeff Brandes and we look forward to having such a strong conservative consumer advocate in the Florida Senate.”
IN HD 11, CORD BYRD WRAPS UP ENDORSEMENTS FROM FIRST COAST’S FIRST RESPONDERS
The Cord Byrd Campaign announced the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police – Jacksonville, FL Lodge 5-30, Nassau County Fire/Rescue Professionals and Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters.
IN HD 59, WHO IS THE FAVORITE TO WIN? JOE WICKER? OR IS IT BETTY JO TOMPKINS
By all indications, Joe Wicker received the nod from House Republican leadership as the anointed one in the race for State House District 59, the seat that Rachel Burgin would be running forif her ambition hadn’t driven her to run for the State Sente.
Wicker might have the nod, but that memo hasn’t seemed to make the rounds in the district. Another Republican, Betty Jo Tompkins, appears to be getting some traction, reports Patrick Mateiga of La Gaceta. She just picked up the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Home Builders, the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau, County Commission Chair Ken Hagan and 20 of the past presidents of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce.
ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: Bald eagles are making a comeback in Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced Tuesday that the bald eagle population in the state is up nearly 9 percent since 2009 based on aerial surveys. The survey, done last year, counted 1,457 active bald eagle nests in Florida. The agency compares that with 1973, when just 88 active nests were counted.