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Sunburn for 8/20: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on August 20, 2012

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

***On the eve of the Republican National Convention, several of Florida’s leading political and public affairs consultants will be hosting an invitation-only party in St. Peterburg. The “Full Lid Party” will be the go-to after party following the official welcome reception at Tropicana Field. Click here for more information and tickets.***

RASMUSSEN: NELSON 47%, MACK 40%

Sen. Bill Nelson holds a 7-percentage point lead over GOP challenger Rep. Connie Mack in Florida’s Senate race, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released Friday.

The poll of Sunshine State voters has Nelson leading Mack by a 47 to 40 percent margin. Three percent of the survey’s respondents like some other candidate and 10 percent are undecided.

The survey shows 22 percent of voters regard Mack as “very unfavorable”– up eight points from a month ago, while just 14 percent hold a “very favorable view” of the four-term congressman.

Nelson’s favorability numbers, meanwhile, have improved over the past month, as he now is viewed as “very favorably” by 21 percent and “very unfavorably” by 18 percent. The survey’s results suggest the ads Nelson’s campaign launched in early August– one positive spot and one drawing attention to Mack’s “questionable work habits”– may be resonating with voters.

MEDICARE SHAPING TIGHT US SENATE RACE via POLITICO

It’s a tight race and it’s in flux. Florida campaign consultants from both parties agree that the undercard race depends largely on whether Floridians choose Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. And that in turn may hinge on who wins the Medicare messaging war in a state with one of the biggest senior populations in the country.

“I think these races get completely tied together,” said Tre’ Evers, a prominent Republican consultant in Orlando. “I think that Mack needs Romney to do well to win.”

Florida Democratic strategist Todd Wilder agreed — although he wasn’t so bullish on Romney’s chances.

“Democrats have made a living off of Medicare, promoting Medicare, protecting Medicare. It’s going to take more than an obscure congressman from Wisconsin to undo that,” Wilder said, referring to Ryan. “I just think the tide goes to the president. They don’t have the money or the time to turn that aircraft carrier around.”

But Evers, Wilder and other Florida politicos don’t think that Medicare will be the decisive issue. It will be part of the mix, but will fade in prominence as the campaign moves forward.

NOTHING BUT CHEERS FOR PAUL RYAN AT THE VILLAGES by Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Several thousand people eager to see Paul Ryan have arrived at the main town square in the Villages, where the Bloody Mary’s were selling well before 9 a.m.. Lee Greenwood hasn’t taken the stage yet, but somebody who looks a little like Roy Orbison is rocking the seniors with Elvis and Zack Brown hits.

“Protect & Strengthen MEDICARE” says the sign in back of the podium, and it looks like Ryan will have no problem assuring the crowd they have nothing to worry about with their benefits.

“Everybody here knows it’s not going to effect them because they’re over 55,” said Derald Gerhkre, a retiree originally from Wisconsin, referring to the Romney-Ryan promise not to touch benefits for anyone over 55.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “And mom — you did build that.” — Ryan, quoted by the Washington Times, while campaigning with his mother who started her own business after her husband died.

MICHELLE OBAMA IN FLORIDA ON WEDNESDAY

First Lady Michelle Obama is heading back to Florida for a grassroots rally Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale at the War Memorial Auditorium.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL TO OPEN RNC…

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will open the Republican National Convention as its temporary chairman.

McConnell’s appointment to the post was announced Saturday by Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus. McConnell will be temporary chairman until the convention picks a permanent chairman, which is usually one of the first orders of business at the party gathering.

“Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is an excellent leader of our party, and I am proud to recommend him as temporary chairman of the convention,” Priebus said in a statement. He added that McConnell’s leadership of the Senate Republicans “is steadfast.”

…ANN ROMNEY WILL HELP KICK THINGS OFF

Ann Romney is expected to be named the main headliner to kick off the RNC – establishing a foundation for the week long GOP effort to rally support for her husband’s presidential campaign.

The announcement is likely to come Monday as part of a bigger rollout of the convention schedule, a Republican source with knowledge of the plan tells CNN. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, cautioned that the schedule could change, as the Romney campaign and organizers seek to put the finishing touches on the four day event.

ABC RELEASES RNC PLANS, WILL ONLY THREE NIGHTS OF COVERAGE by Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times

ABC News will send several of its stars to Tampa for the Republican National Convention, including top anchor Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos and Nightline co-host Terry Moran.

But much of that coverage won’t make it to ABC’s prime time broadcasts, as the network currently plans only to air an hour of coverage at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the convention, Aug. 28 to 30.

The announcement continues a pattern of cutting back on convention broadcasts by the networks, which have criticized the political conventions as highly-scripted infomercials for the parties, where little breaking news actually occurs. (in 2008, the impact of Hurricane Gustav kept broadcast networks from extensively covering the start of the RNC in primetime.)

A WEEK TO RNC, AND STILL NO CONVENTION DELEGATE LIST FROM RPOF

Less than two weeks before Republicans descend on Tampa, the Republican Party of Florida has yet to release names of the state’s 98 delegates — about half of whom aren’t expected to be officially seated, reports Jacob Carpenter of the Naples Daily News.

The delay comes as state officials continue to negotiate with the Republican National Committee, which stripped Florida of half its delegates for moving up its presidential primary date to Jan. 31. The minor wrist slap won’t have any bearing on the outcome of the convention, where all state delegates are expected to endorse Romney.

“It’s unpleasant to know you elected a delegate who will be cut, but (the convention) is really just a show of unity for the party,” said Frank Schwerin, chairman of the Collier County Republican Executive Committee and one of the delegates not seated. “We don’t have a brokered convention or anything. … If it was a three-way race between ( Rick) Santorum, Newt (Gingrich) and Mitt, you could be assured there would be lawsuits and such about how they cut the seats.”

MAJOR LOBBYING FORCES BACK BENEFIT CONCERT DURING GOP CONVENTION

Gavin DeGraw will headline a benefit concert sponsored by lobbying giants Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and theRecording Industry Association at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The performance will be at Musicians On Call’s Presidential Convention Charity Benefit on Aug. 28. Musicians On Call is a charity that brings music to wounded soldiers at hospitals. StoneRokk will be the DJ at the invitation-only event. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has spent $3.4 million on lobbying the federal government this year while the Recording Industry Association has spent $2.9 million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

SKEPTICISM GREETS THE ECONOMIC PROJECTIONS FOR THE CONVENTION

Wall Street Journal: Robert A. Baade, an economist at Lake Forest College in Illinois who has studied the impact of sporting events and political conventions studied 18 national political conventions between 1972 and 2004, and found no statistically significant impact on personal income or local employment when comparing host cities with control cities that didn’t host events.

TWEET, TWEET: @RepDanaYoung: Tampa is sparkling and ready for its date with the world in 8 days. So proud of my City!

THE RNC IS COMING TO TOWN!

>>>A 10-day forecast is now available from The Weather Channel — ending on the weekend that visitors arrive for the RNC — and it shows a 60 percent chance of rain.

>>>Former U.S. Speaker of the House and one-time college professor Newt Gingrich will host Newt University, a series of public policy workshops for delegates to brush up on the policy and U.S. history behind the GOP platform.

>>>Tampa police are cracking down on prostitution at strip clubs before the Republican National Convention.

>>>With thousands of protesters expected in town the week of the RNC, bail bondsmen aren’t the only ones hoping for some lucrative paydays. The list includes defense attorneys, portable toilet vendors, hotels, bars and restaurants that could cash in.

15 FLORIDA LOBBYING FIRMS COLLECTED MORE THAN $500k IN FEES DURING SECOND QUARTER OF 2012

Four firms that topped $1 million were Ballard Partners, GrayRobinson, Ronald L. Book PA and Southern Strategy Group.

The reports list the clients represented by lobbying firms and give broad ranges of the total amounts of money that firms collect. The eleven firms that reported receiving between $500,000 and $999,999 were Capital City Consulting LLC, Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky & Abate PA, Corcoran & Johnston, Dutko Worldwide, Floridian Partners, Foley & Lardner, Fowler White Boggs PA, Johnson & Blanton, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, The Rubin Group, and Tsamoutales Strategies.

The thirteen firms that reported receiving between $250,000 and $499,999 were Advantage Consulting Team, Akerman Senterfitt, Anfield Consulting, Becker & Poliakoff PA, Greenberg Traurig PA, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart PA, Larry J. Overton & Associates Inc., Metz Husband & Daughton PA, Pennington Moore Wilkinson Bell & Dunbar PA, Pittman Law Group PL, Prieguez & Weems LLC, Smith Bryan & Myers Inc., Spearman Management Inc., The Mayernick Group LLC, and William J. Peebles Attorney at Law.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO POWER AHEAD WITH FPL HEARING TODAY

After a proposed settlement agreement touched off two days of high-stakes maneuvering, the state Public Service Commission will go todauy with a hearing about whether Florida Power & Light should raise base electric rates, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

Commission Chairman Ronald Brise late Friday issued an order rejecting a request to suspend the hearing. FPL and three groups of large power users proposed the settlement agreement Wednesday afternoon and also asked for a suspension, as they hoped to get a decision on the settlement by the end of August.

But Brise’s order said the rate case began in January and that the hearing, which is scheduled to last as long as two weeks, had been scheduled since March. He also said the commission is not required to rule on the proposed settlement before listening to testimony and gathering evidence during the hearing.

DEPT. OF HEALTH APPOINTS NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

Hue Reynolds has been appointed the new communications director for the Florida Department of Health, a role that will make her responsible for the department’s media relations, internal and external communications, communications training, and marketing. Previously, Reynolds was external affairs director at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities — where she was paid $72,000 annually — and was deputy director for communications and external affairs at the Florida Department of Education. Prior to working for state government, she was web manager for the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Institute of CPAs.

“Ms. Reynolds brings management expertise and diverse communication experience from her work across state agencies and professional trade organizations,” said Surgeon General John Armstrong, DOH secretary.

***SUNBURN is brought to you by Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC, a top-notch public affairs, political communications and public relations firm.  Visit www.bascomllc.com to read about its growing team, success stories and case studies.***

VAL DEMINGS TOWN HALL: Democratic Congressional candidate Val Demings hosts a town hall with voters at Acropoli Pizza in Dundee. It’s open to the public.

CONGRESSIONAL PRIMARY WINNER TREY RADEL LOANED CAMPAIGN $206K IN WANING DAYS

In the waning days of the Republican primary campaign for Congress, candidate Trey Radel pumped $206,000 into his campaign coffers, raising questions about the source of the money.

… Election finance records show Radel loaned his campaign $130,000 on July 24; $30,000 on July 25; $20,000 each on Aug. 2 and Aug. 6; and $6,000 on Aug. 10.

“It’s cash that I have and I have had,” Radel said when questioned by the Daily News earlier this week about the source of the money. … He said part of the money — Radel wouldn’t say how much — came from money he inherited after his mother died in 2009. On Friday, Radel said he received the money in July 2012.

PATRICK MURPHY, ALLEN WEST SPAR OVER DEBATE SCHEDULING

Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy has offered to debate Rep. Allen West once on WPTV’s “To The Point” Sunday program and again in a St. Lucie County League of Women Voters forum on Oct. 5, reports Jonathan Mattise of  TCPalm.

Murphy, a Democrat living in Jupiter, responded Friday to a West letter calling for four debates before the November election for the 18th District U.S. House of Representatives seat. Instead of the four head-to-heads West called for — two on the economy, one on energy and one on national defense — Murphy’s campaign invited West to two debates.

The “To The Point” debate, which would land on a “mutually selected Sunday morning,” would feature voter-submitted questions. The St. Lucie County League of Women Voters would moderate the Oct. 5 debate.

The West campaign has not yet responded to Murphy’s counteroffer.

Murphy’s letter slams West for launching “some of the most outrageous verbal attacks ever heard in modern politics.”

FALSE POLITICAL ADS NOT HARD TO FIND DURING PRIMARY SEASON by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

They are scenes more at home on Animal Planet than in a political campaign’s playbook.

There was the picture of a sad-looking puppy. Another featured a “Jaws”-like shark ready to devour a wooden rowboat full of cash.

Those were two of the many images political consultants used to cast their candidate’s opponent in a negative light during the recent primary elections. The ads are called “contrast pieces” by political pros, and they were seen all over the First Coast.

Not only were the ads negative, but often blatantly false.

JEFF CLEMENS WINS SENATE RACE AFTER RECOUNT via Kathleen Haughney of the Sun-Sentinel

After two days of 24 election workers recounting the 24,245 ballots cast in a Palm Beach County Senate district, state Rep. Jeff Clemens emerged as the winner of the Democratic primary for state Senate District 27 by 17 votes over fellow state Rep. Mack Bernard.

“I’m a little shocked,” said Clemens, who made a thumbs up sign after being given the news. “It was such a brutal week. You go through such a range of emotions.”

fter two days of 24 election workers recounting the 24,245 ballots cast in a Palm Beach County Senate district, state Rep. Jeff Clemens emerged as the winner of the Democratic primary for state Senate District 27 by 17 votes over fellow state Rep. Mack Bernard.

“I’m a little shocked,” said Clemens, who made a thumbs up sign after being given the news. “It was such a brutal week. You go through such a range of emotions.”

TWEET OF THE DAY:  @mattgaetz: Congrats to my bud Jeff Clemens on his election to the FL Sen. Though we rarely agree, Jeff is a true believer who I deeply respect.

MACHINE RECOUNT SHOWS CARY PIGMAN STILL WINNING OVER RANDY JOHNSON IN HD 55

Cary Pigman is one step closer to serving in Tallahassee.

At the end of Election Day on Tuesday, Pigman finished less than 30 votes ahead of GOP rival Randy Johnson, prompting a machine recount of the votes in House District 55.

On Saturday, after the ballots were checked and rechecked, Pigman again finished ahead of Johnson — this time by 34 votes — solidifying Pigman’s victory.

Had the machine recount found the difference between Pigman and Johnson to be just 32 votes — or .25% of the total — a hand recount would have been required, said Chris Cate, a spokesman for the Florida Deparment of State.

Johnson’s defeat is a blow to opponents of gaming expansion in Florida as the former State Representative is one of the most outspoken critics of gambling.

AFTER RECOUNT, BARBARA WATSON HANGS ON TO WIN HD 107 PRIMARY BY 13 VOTES

A hand recount in the Democratic primary for House District 107 between Reps. John Patrick Julien and Barbara Watson did not change the original outcome of the election — Watson won — although it did narrow the margin of victory to just 13 votes.

“Congratulations to Rep. Barbara Watson on her re-election victory,” said Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith. “Barbara has been a strong voice for Florida’s middle class families and a tireless advocate in Tallahassee. She has delivered for the people of her district and they delivered her a victory.”

MY TWEET: @SaintPetersblog: Two hand recounts conducted today: One race decided by 17 votes, another by 13. Still think your vote doesn’t matter?

COUNTER TWEET: @GoMeteoric: It’s another reason even one illegal, noncitizen vote can’t be allowed.

***Are you tired of getting your ASSETS TAXED OFF? Amendment 4 can help. Join the movement at TaxYourAssetsOff.com or check us out on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.*** 

ADS WILL STOP ON 9/11CNN reports neither presidential campaign will run television commercials on September 11 this year. “In 2008, candidates Obama and Sen. John McCain paused their campaigns on September 11 and jointly visited Ground Zero in New York City in commemoration of the 2001 attacks.”

CAN’T WAIT TO READ: Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World by Evan Thomas. “Facing the Soviet Union, China, and his own generals, some of whom believed a first strike was the only means of survival, Eisenhower would make his boldest and riskiest bet yet, one of such enormity that there could be but two outcomes: the survival of the world, or its end.”

HAPPY DELIVERIES: Got some very good news to share to begin the week. As you may know, Tom and Laurel Lee were expecting a baby during the campaign. No rest for the happy family, as their daughter Faith was born Wednesday morning!

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