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Sunburn for 9/21 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on September 21, 2012

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

*** The first post-primary campaign finance report for legislative candidates heading into the general election is due TONIGHT, with subsequent reports coming fast and furious over the next 46 days. The G1 totals include everything raised/spent from August 10 to September 14. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out.  www.On3PR.com. ***

MITT ROMNEY, CAMPAIGNING IN SARASOTA, TAKES NEW TONE

The Republican nominee held a rally in Miami on Wednesday. And then, in a candidate forum on the Spanish language network Univision, Romney said he supports “the 100 percent in America.”

He says in the talk with donors, he was referring to President Obama’s economic policies, which he says have caused more people to need government help to live.

“My campaign is about the 100 percent in America and I’m concerned about them. This is a campaign about helping people who need help. Right now the people who are poor need help getting out of poverty.”

ROMNEY PLANS BATTLEGROUND PUSH…

Romney’s plan to rebound from a tough stretch in his bid for the White House rests on stepping up campaigning in swing states, running more television ads and curtailing a fundraising push that has had him spending more time with donors in hotel ballrooms than with supporters at campaign rallies.”

Still navigating a series of setbacks, Romney will hit the campaign trail harder than he has since the party conventions began at the end of August, with public events in Florida, Nevada, Colorado and Ohio in the next week.

…HAS $50.4 MILLION LEFT FOR SPRINT TO ELECTION DAY

At the end of August, Romney had about $50.4 million to spend on the final months of the campaign, though reports released today showed he owed $15 million on a loan taken that month.

Romney took out a $20 million loan in late August, in the days before his campaign had access to funds they had raised for the general election because he was not yet the official nominee. The new reports show he paid back $5 million before the end of August.

PAUL RYAN PLANS CAMPAIGN STOPS IN FLA. THIS SATURDAY

Ryan will attend a rally Saturday morning at the Versailles restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Later that day, Ryan will attend a town hall at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

OBAMA AND ROMNEY ON ’60 MINUTES’ THIS SUNDAY

President Obama and Romney “will get the 60 Minutes treatment this Sunday in separate interviews with different correspondents,” USA Today writes.

CHARLIE CRIST JOINS EDDIE VEDDER AND OBAMA AT FUNDRAISER via Mark Landler of the New York Times

The motorcade wended its way through Palma Ceia, a gracious South Tampa neighborhood of large homes, adjacent to a golf course. It stopped at the sprawling brick residence of Don Miggs and Lisa deBartolo, a daughter of the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Don Miggs is a singer-songwriter.

Guests were gathered at tables and on white sofas, under a white tent in the backyard, sipping red wine and the odd tumbler of Scotch.

Among the faces in the small crowd: Charlie Crist and Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Eddie Vedder, strumming a mandolin,  started with a Pearl Jam hit, “Rise.” Next he traded the mandolin for ukelele from Hawaii (“It has a little birth certificate in there,” he joked). Vedder then covered a James Taylor song (couldn’t immediately name that tune) and Neil Young (“Rockin’ in the Free World”).

TWEET, TWEET: @LennyCurry: hell, I’d hang w Vedder also but I’d hang because of the music. In spite of the politics. For Crist….all politics.

RUBIO FEATURED IN ROMNEY AD by Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com

Sen. Marco Rubio has a starring role in Romney’s latest ad, a spot on Medicare running in swing states starting Thursday.

In the ad, entitled titled “Least We Can Do,” Rubio says Romney and Paul Ryan understand that changes to Medicare are needed in order to protect the program.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get it. Medicare is going broke. That’s not politics. It’s math,” Rubio says in the spot. “Anyone who wants to leave Medicare like it is, is for letting it go bankrupt.”

DEMOCRATIC ENTHUSIASM GROWS IN SWING STATES

A new USA Today/Gallup poll in 12 battleground states find voters are now significantly more enthusiastic about voting this fall than they were in June: 59% are either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic, up from 46%.

But Democrats’ level of enthusiasm has increased more: “Thus, whereas equal percentages of Democrats and Republicans were enthusiastic in June, Democrats are now significantly more enthusiastic than Republicans, 73% vs. 64%.”

TWEET OF THE DAY: @asharock: Political speeches in America have been reduced to a series of one-liners strung together.

CONNIE MACK LAUNCHES NEW WEB AD ATTACKING BILL NELSON’S RECORD ON MILITARY SPENDING…

Mack is out with a new 30-second ad, the second released in a week, attempting to link Bill Nelson to potential cuts in military spending if Congress and the White House can’t find a way to trim the budget by year’s end. Watch here.

…WILL LAUNCH BUS TOUR NEXT WEEK

Mack will launch his six-day “Freedom Tour” Saturday in Gainesville. While steering clear of South Florida, Mack will spend plenty of time next week in such Republican strongholds as Jacksonville, the Orlando area and the Panhandle. Various VIPs are expected to join him at select stops, the campaign said.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

RICK SCOTT APPROVAL RATING STILL UPSIDE DOWN

Governor Rick Scott’s approval rating is still upside down (has it ever been in positive territory?), according to a Fox News poll, which also showed Romney trailing Obama.

Voters were asked if they “approve or disapprove of the job Rick Scott is doing as governor” and 39 percent said they approve, while 49 percent disapprove, reports Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald.

Those numbers are mirrored among Florida’s crucial independent voters and those with no college degrees. Floridians with college degrees think he’s not measuring up by a margin of 51 percent to 31 percent while independent voters disapprove of him 48-39 percent.

The gap is especially wide among women voters, who disapprove of the governor by a 55 percent to 34 percent margin.

TIMES/HEARLD POLL: SUPPORT FOR SCOTT LAGS VS. ALEX SINK FOR ’14 by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

In a hypothetical match-up for governor in 2014, Alex Sink would beat Scott, 47 percent to 39 percent, with the rest undecided. Crist has a two-point edge over Scott in a similar match-up, 44 percent to 42 percent, but that’s within the poll’s margin of error.

QUOTE OF THE DAY — “Alex Sink is much stronger against Scott in a rematch than Crist,” pollster Brad Coker said. “(Scott’s) dream race would be against Charlie Crist.”

STATE POLITICAL FUNDS CREATED TO MAKE CONTRIBUTIONS MORE TRANSPARENT SIT UNUSED by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Under the current system, lawmakers can bury money they raise into state party accounts. That money is listed with all other party contributions, making it nearly impossible to tell who raised what.

Because the committees have not been implemented, citizens still don’t.

The GOP pushed hard for the bill, using its supermajority to override a veto by Gov. Charlie Crist. Democrats were opposed, calling the committees slush funds for legislative leaders — although they said they’d use them if the GOP did.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz of Niceville said the issue only came up because of lavish spending under Greer. He said the committees are not needed because the current party chairman, Jacksonville’s Lenny Curry, is “very, very careful with party money.”

“There is no concern … by me that there are any problems accounting for party funds, which prompted the original debate,” he said.

Rather than raising money through the committees, legislative leaders continue to raise money for state political parties. That money is often earmarked for specific races, but there is no requirement to disclose where the money is spent.

AARON BEAN, NANCY SODERBERG TO STEP INTO THE TIGER’S DEN TODAY via Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

The two candidates vying for state Senate District 4 will take the stage Friday at First Coast Tiger Bay’s monthly lunch. It will be the first time Bean and Soderberg will take the stage together.

The district includes all of Nassau and parts of Duval County. It leans heavily Republican.

Soderberg has been able to raise a fair amount of money for a rookie political candidate running in a district where the demographics work against her.

>>>A political committee tied to Soderberg has received a $10,000 contribution from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $1,000 from former Vice President Al Gore, according to the committee’s website.

IT’S NOW SENATOR-ELECT WILTON SIMPSON

The Democratic Party missed yesterday’s 5 p.m. deadline to find a replacement candidate in the state Senate District 18 seat. That means Wilton Simpson, an egg farmer and businessman from Trilby, wins the seat unopposed.

Simpson’s race is now over after a Hudson college student dropped his bid last week. Democrats had seven days to find a new candidate, but it appeared unlikely they would do so. Simpson also avoided a potentially bruising campaign after state Rep. John Legg moved to an adjacent district just weeks before the August primary election. Though this is Simpson’s first campaign, he has long been a politically connected donor who also served on boards for the Pasco County Fair, Economic Development Council and the Pasco Farm Bureau. Simpson said he wants to focus on the economy, education and infrastructure and water issues.

REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT JIMMIE SMITH RAISES ALMOST $80K FOR HD 34 CAMPAIGN

Trying to beat back a challenge from former lawmaker Nancy Argenziano, State Rep. Jimmie Smith, collected $79,665 in contributions between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, newly filed reports via the News Service of Florida show.

Smith has raised an overall total of $180,387 and appears certain to have a huge fund-raising edge over Argenziano, a former Republican House member and senator who is running as an independent. Argenziano’s latest totals had not been posted on the state Division of Elections website early Thursday afternoon, but she had raised only $5,395 through Aug. 9.

More than half of Smith’s contributions during the latest period — $49,000 — came in a check from the Republican Party of Florida. Also, that does not include more than $23,000 from the party in in-kind contributions, such as staffing and polling. Smith also got money from major players in Tallahassee, including the Florida Medical Association, U.S. Sugar Corp. and the HCA hospital chain.

IN HD 67, ED HOOPER HAS BIG CASH HAUL

Republican incumbent Ed Hooper raised $37,675 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, likely adding to his huge financial lead over Democratic challenger Ben Farrell in House District 67, newly filed records via the News Service of Florida show.

Hooper reported an overall total of $192,915. Contributors during the most-recent period ranged from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to the Florida Retail Federation. Farrell’s contributions during the latest reporting period had not been posted on the state Division of Elections website early Thursday afternoon, but the Clearwater Democrat had raised a total of $9,810 through Aug. 9.

DWIGHT DUDLEY ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF LOCAL LEADERS FOR HD 68 CAMPAIGN

Dwight Dudley, Democratic candidate for House District 68, on Thursday announced a list of prominent municipal elected officials supporting his campaign.  The local leaders so far include Pinellas Park Councilmember Patricia Johnson and Pinellas Park Councilmember Jerry Mullins and St. Petersburg Councilmembers Charlie Gerdes, Bill Dudley, Steve Kornell and Karl Nurse.

TAILGATE FUNDRAISER THIS SATURDAY FOR HD 71 CANDIDATE JIM BOYD

Join Charlie Dudley, Robert Reyes, Richard Reeves, and Paul Mitchell as they host a Tailgate Fundraiser for HD 71 candidate Jim Boyd. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. before the Clemson vs. Florida State football game in Lot 6, Space 50. A contribution of $250 is suggested. Invite here.

***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.***

GOVERNOR HAS CHANCE TO MAKE FIRST APPOINTMENT TO POWERFUL UTILITY BOARD by Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Scott has until Sunday to decide whether to reappoint the longest serving member of the powerful state utility board, eight-year veteran Lisa Edgar, or go in a new direction.

Scott interviewed Edgar and three other candidates on Tuesday, including Aventura city commissioner Luz Urbaez-Weinberg, Tampa Bay Water official David Polmann and a Ken Littlefield, a former Wesley Chapel state legislator.

“I want somebody that’s going to … make a good decision,’’ Scott told reporters Tuesday before conducting the interviews, which were left off his publicly-released schedule. “We want to keep utility rates as low as possible, but we want to make sure the utilities have the capital to be able to provide the service we all need.”

SEN. FASANO TESTIFIES AT CITIZENS RATE HEARING

State Senator Mike Fasano testified at the Office Insurance Regulation’s rate hearing today pposition to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation’s application for a premium increase.  Fasano, long a vocal critic of Citizens and its repeated attempts to increase rates while reducing coverage and related services, traveled to Miami for the hearing.  The application, as filed, seeks an 11.1 % statewide average increase on residential coverage and a 50% increase for sinkhole coverage in Pasco and Hernando Counties.

“Citizens has filed a premium rate increase that, given the myriad negative circumstances surrounding this insurance company, is not warranted and, frankly, is the epitome of arrogance,”Fasano states.  “This is a company that has strayed from its mission to serve its policyholders to one of indulgence and putting its own needs first.”

REPUBLICANS WARM UP, LEFTIST COOL, TO JACKSONVILLE MAYOR ALVIN BROWN via Sunshine State News

As Democrat Alvin Brown kicks off his second year as mayor of the Sunshine State’s largest city, he’s receiving criticism and accolades from some very unlikely sources.

A series of articles in recent months has drawn attention to criticisms Brown, the first Democratic mayor of Jacksonville in 20 years and the first African-American to occupy the office, has received from his party’s committed progressive wing. Particularly in question is his failure to support an expansion of Jacksonville’s human rights ordinance to include homosexuals, and his apparent reluctance to endorse President Obama’s re-election bid.

“Clearly, the progressives are disappointed in him as a mayor,” says Dr. Matthew T. Corrigan, chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida and an expert on state politics. In an interview with Sunshine State News, Corrigan said, “He made a promise before he was elected, that he would work along party lines and not as a partisan Democrat. He also promised not to raise taxes. He had to run, and now has to govern, as a conservative Democrat. Progressives are wary of that.

THE FIORENTINO GROUP, TUCKER HALL JOIN GOVERNMENT RELATIONS & PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONSORTIUM 

Looking to provide one-stop, integrated government relations and public affairs services throughout the Southeastern U.S., a group of bi-partisan veteran lobbyists and government relations professionals announced the formation of SunCoast Partners, a full-service public affairs consortium.

With offices in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., SunCoast Partners will have the ability to assist clients at the federal, state and local level, and work on behalf of clients with multistate issues in a coordinated manner.

The partnership includes some of the most respected lobbying firms in their states, including The Fiorentino Group and SCG Governmental Affairs in Florida; Hudson Group in Georgia; Capitol Consultants in South Carolina; CompassNC in North Carolina and Jenkins Hill Consulting in Washington, D.C.

Also joining the partnership is Parquet Public Affairs, an Orlando-based firm that provides coalition and issue management services in all 50 states as well as manages clients’ relationships before relevant state and local political and policy organizations representing governors, attorney generals, mayors, legislators and other elected officials. Additionally, joining the team will be Tucker/Hall, a public relations, strategic communications and crisis management firm with offices in Tampa and Jacksonville.

***Cory Booker, the nationally-recognized mayor of Newark, is the keynote speaker at the Hillsborough Democratic Party’s Kennedy King Dinner on Saturday, September 22.  Reserve your tickets here.***

FRONT PORCH AMERICA: Two-thirds of new homes built in the United States during 2011 had a porch, a trend that has been on a steady rise for almost 10 years, according to a Census survey of construction. It’s not quite a return to Norman Rockwell’s Americana, but the rise in the number of new homes with porches hints at a shift in the way Americans want to live: in smaller houses and dense neighborhoods that promote walking and social interaction.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to congressional candidate Al Lawson.

POLITICAL PARTY QUIZ: Take the Political Party Quiz from Pew Research: Answer 12 questions and it pinpoints you on a chart along the political party spectrum.

‘WEST WING’ REUNION: The cast of the ‘West Wing’ reunites for a campaign parody video made for Michigan Supreme Court candidate Bridget Mary McCormack, who is the sister of “West Wing” actress Mary McCormack. Watch here.

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