- Tampa Tribune issues endorsements in Pinellas Commission primaries
- Unilever to lay off more than 200 in Clearwater plant closure
- Four groups endorse Ken Peluso for Pinellas County School Board
- Greenlight Pinellas to take its message to the phones
- Judge won’t lift Florida Keys gay marriage stay
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune launches new effort to cover pot industry
Sunburn for 7/19: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics
THANK YOU FOR THE FORWARDS: I appreciate all of you, especially Wade Mullins, who forward Sunburn to your colleagues.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN, LENNY CURRY!
SPOTTED at the Dave Matthews Band concert in Tampa: Reps. Jeff Brandes & Matt Hudson, Sarasota GOP Chair Joe Gruters, AT&T’s Andrew Hall & Stephanie Smith, operatives Clay Barker, Chris Spencer and Michael Wickersheim.
…AND ON AIR GUITAR: The Florida Bankers Association’s Kenneth Pratt.
OBAMA STILL LEADS NATIONALLY
A new Fox News poll finds President Obama leading Mitt Romney nationally by four points, 45% to 41%.
OBAMA PREPPING FOR TWO-DAY SWING OF FLORIDA by the News Service of Florida.
President Obama will campaign Thursday and Friday in Florida, where polls show he is in a dead heat race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who will get a huge in-state stage for a few days next month at the Tampa GOP convention. Obama will mostly be talking about the economy – reminding Floridians – as Gov. Rick Scott has been doing – that things are looking up and jobs are returning. Obama also will likely talk about the Bush-era tax cuts, which he is proposing to keep in place for most Americans. Obama will stump in battleground areas: Jacksonville on Thursday morning and West Palm Beach on Thursday evening. Obama will, however venture into heavily Republican Fort Myers on Friday, and then hit Orlando. The campaign isn’t saying yet where his Friday events will be, but the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that Rollins College may be a stop.
ANOTHER REASON WHY MARCO WON’T BE VP
Although it’s sometimes difficult to prove a negative, Alex Leary offers another reason why Marco Rubio won’t be VP: If Romney is vetting Rubio, he has not left footprints in an obvious spot: Tallahassee, where Rubio served nine years in the House, including two as speaker. No one from the Romney campaign — or anyone else this year — has requested documents from the House.
VEEP ANNOUNCEMENT LIKELY AFTER OLYMPICS
Despite suggestions Mitt Romney might pick a running mate this week, sources close to the Romney campaign tell the New York Daily News the working plan “has been to announce the pick after the Olympic Games, which begin next week and conclude Aug. 12 — two weeks before the Republican convention in Tampa.”
“The running mate choice — a high-stakes pick often described as the first presidential-caliber decision a candidate makes — will dominate the news cycle for days, temporarily changing the subject from Romney’s financial baggage. But some top advisers believe popping the name now would be seen as a panicky overreaction to Romney’s bad press and should be saved for better ‘bounce’ closer to the convention. As a practical matter, moreover, a GOP veteran of vice presidential rollouts said it takes at least a month for a support staff to be up and running before a nominee is named.”
CONNIE MACK: THE BROOKS BROTHERS CANDIDATE by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times
Connie Mack’s Senate campaign charged nearly $470 for clothing at a Brooks Brothers in Jacksonville, FEC records show, an apparent violation of law.
… It’s the second issue that has come up with Mack. Earlier this year we reported how he has sent official House mail, paid for by taxpayers, to Florida residents far outside his district. That was a violation of House rules and a vendor, who took the blame, repaid the treasury. Subsequently, the Republican head of the Franking Committee said Mack was in the clear.
Mack’s campaign didn’t name the staffer who allegedly made the questionable purchases. While the expenditure is small and the apparent violation minimal, the incident speaks to a broader problem with the Mack campaign, which spent more than it took in last quarter. Mack spent $863,757 but took in $779,7981 and has $1.4 million cash on hand. Bill Nelson hasn’t yet reported, but as of last quarter he had $9.5 million cash on hand.
>>>At a media avail on Tuesday, Mack refused to answer Tampa Bay Times’ political reporter Adam Smith’s questions, telling him: “When you decide to be a real journalist, I’ll be more than happy to talk to you.”
MY TWEET: @saintpetersblog: Policies aside, GOP in Fla. (w/Romney, Mack, Scott) really have likeability issues. Do you really want to have a drink with them? #sayfie
CHRIS CHRISTIE TO GIVE KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT RNC IN TAMPA…MAYBE
“The word is going out quietly to Republican activists across New Jersey: If you’re going to the GOP convention in Tampa next month, be sure to be there by Tuesday night, Aug. 28, because Gov. Chris Christie is going to be giving the keynote speech that night,” the New York Post reports.
Said one party activist: “We’ve been told that’s the night to be there, that’s when the governor is going to speak. They’re saying he’s the keynoter.”
BUT: Republicans say that, contrary to these reports,Christie has not been confirmed as the keynote speaker. Neither the Romney campaign nor the Republican National Committee would confirm those reports.
SILVER-LINING: The iconic “Don’t Stop Believin’” band Journey will perform at The Creative Coalition’s gala benefit concert on Aug. 30, reports Politico’s Influence.
GROUPS READY FOR FIGHT OVER BP MONEY
The payoff may be years away, but Florida stakeholders are already coordinating efforts to make sure the state gets its share of BP oil spill compensation in what could be the largest Gulf restoration effort in history, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.
Two weeks after President Barack Obama signed the RESTORE Act into law, organizations that are traditional opponents of each other are working toward the same goal of securing billions of dollars from the company for damage done by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which sent nearly 4 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. It was the worst such spill in U.S. history.
Calling it an unprecedented opportunity to use private money for public good, environmental supporters say it should be used to restore and purchase strategic parcels of environmentally sensitive lands from willing sellers in the Big Bend and along the eight-county region most severely impacted by the spill.
REPORT: FLORIDA JOBLESS CLAIMS EXAGGERATED
State economists have cast a cloud over Florida’s sunny economy recovery picture, releasing data showing nearly 70 percent of the drop in the state’s unemployment rate since December has been due to discouraged workers, reports the News Service of Florida.
The Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimated in a report Tuesday that Florida’s unemployment rate of 8.6 percent would be 9.5 percent if workers who have stopped looking for jobs were added to the picture. The rate would still be lower than the 9.9 percent posted in December. The figures provide some analytical backup to anecdotal information that much of the state and national recovery is due to a smaller labor force and not to job growth. Florida releases its June unemployment rate on Friday.
DEFENSE CUTS JEOPARDIZE 80,000 JOBS IN FLORIDA
Florida will lose nearly 80,000 jobs if Congress cannot agree on a deficit-reduction plan by the end of the year and automatic spending cutbacks kick in, according to a report released on Tuesday. The impact would be especially severe on scores of small military subcontractors in South and Central Florida, bringing another blow to the battered job market, defense industry analysts warned.
COUNTY MEDICAID BILLS SHRINK
The amount of money that counties will have to pay to the state in a controversy about Medicaid bills has been substantially reduced, according to the Florida Association of Counties via the News Service of Florida.
Lawmakers said early this year that counties owed $325 million in back payments, a figure that counties disputed. Counties are required to share a portion of the costs for certain hospital and nursing-home care for residents enrolled in Medicaid. But the association said on its website that the state has reduced the outstanding total to $172.3 million. Officials from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration traveled to counties throughout the state after the legislative session to discuss the Medicaid bills. The association of counties said AHCA reduced the outstanding total because of issues such as being unable to verify the counties where some Medicaid beneficiaries live. The association and most counties have filed a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of a law aimed at recouping the money.
BOARD OF GOVERNORS SPOX RESIGNS
Layman, who formerly owned her own communications firm, is returning to the private sector after 22 years in government roles. She is joining the Tallahassee-based MedAffinity health technology company while doing other consulting work.
***Campaign Contribution reports are in! Go to www.purplepagesonline.com
VERN BUCHANAN POLL SHOWS HIM WITH BIG LEAD OVER KEITH FITZGERALD
A new poll by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election campaign shows him with a 22-percentage-point lead over Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald for the local seat in Congress.
A memo released by Buchanan’s pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, concludes that Buchanan is “well positioned” to win re-election from a newly redrawn 16th Congressional District.
Fitzgerald’s campaign dismissed the significance of the poll, while again restating the fact that Buchanan remains under investigation for his fund-raising and business practices.
IN CD 13, DEMOCRAT JESSICA EHRLICH ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN TEAM
Jessica Ehrlich announced her general election team, headed by Kiel Brunner … Ehrlich’s campaign is also employing Murphy Vogel Askew Reilly, a highly regarded media firm that played a key role in Representative Kathy Hochul’s successful congressional run in 2011. … The Mack/Counse Group has been brought on by Ehrlich’s campaign to execute new media and mail. … Jef (yes, with one ‘f’) Pollock of Global Strategy Group will be serving as a strategy and research consultant.
PATRICK MURPHY VS. ALLEN WEST RACE FOR CD 22 SEEN AS BELLWETHER
Can Tea Party survive in a district drawn to be less tea party? That’s the question for U.S. Rep. Allen West, and his race for re-election against Democrat Patrick Murphy is being seen nationally as a bellwether – National Journal says the CD 18 contest is one of the top 5 bellwether races in the nation.
JOHN LEGG ENDORSED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SD 17
Republican candidate John Legg announced that the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have endorsed him in his bid for Senate District 17.
“The FOP endorses John’s campaign for Senate District 17,” said James Preston, president of the Florida State Lodge FOP. “We are confident in his ability to stand up for the law enforcement community and ensure public safety is a top priority in Tallahassee.”
“John is the true conservative who will fight for our first responders and the law enforcement community,” said Gary Bradford of the PBA. “When the law enforcement community needs backup in the State Senate, we know John Legg will be there for us.”
“I thank the FOP and PBA for their support!” said Legg. “Law enforcement plays a vital role in protecting the lives of our families and neighbors across the state, and I am honored to have these brave men and women standing in support of my campaign for Senate District 17.”
RPOF’S LENNY CURRY: ATTACKS ON TOM LEE IN SD 24 HAVE ‘CROSSED THE LINE’
Political dirty tricks spawned by lobbyists’ grudges against former state Senate President Tom Lee have erupted in an east Hillsborough County Senate primary, earning a reprimand from state GOP Chairman Lenny Curry, reports Windy March of the Tampa Tribune.
A mailer hitting mailboxes in the district this week criticizes Lee’s personal life, citing a divorce and remarriage, and compares him to county Property Appraiser Rob Turner, who’s been hit by a sex scandal.
The mailer came from a political committee run by Keyna Cory, wife of Jack Cory, a lobbyist who opposes Lee and backs his opponent, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, in the Republican state Senate primary.
… Late Tuesday, as word of the mailer spread, state GOP Chairman Lenny Curry issued a statement saying, “There is an understood rule in politics that families are off limits and the recent attacks on Republican Senate candidate Tom Lee in Hillsborough County have undoubtedly crossed that line.”
Curry said the mailer “illustrates what unfortunately can happen when a Democrat-backed organization gets involved in a Republican primary.”
>>>Burgin told The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday afternoon she is not behind the controversial campaign mailer.
>>>Bernie McCabe, State Attorney for Pinellas-Pasco County, makes rare endorsement, backs Jim Frishe in SD 22.
>>>The Federation of Manufactured Home Owners of Florida, Inc. (FMO) endorses Doug Holder in House District 74.
>>>The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police endorses Representative Mike Weinstein in Senate District 4.
>>>Kathleen Shanahan, former Chief of Staff to Jeb Bush, endorses Jeff Brandes in Senate District 22.
>>>Tom Slade, former RPOF Chair, endorses Aaron Bean in Senate District 4.
RECOMMENDED READING: Nate Silver’s book is now available for pre-order: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t.