Sunburn for 9/27 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on September 27, 2012

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

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QUINNIPIAC POLL OF FLORIDA: BARACK OBAMA 53%, MITT ROMNEY44%

Obama’s edge over Romney has risen from three points before the political conventions to nine points today. His gains are due to improved performance among women, white voters and seniors. Nearly half of Florida Democrats now say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in the past – up from 24 percent at the start of August, and only slightly less than the percentage of Florida Republicans who are more enthusiastic. Two in three Florida likely voters support the DREAM Act policies put in place by the president to allow young illegal immigrants who came to the country as children to obtain work permits and not face deportation.

BRETT DOSTER, ROMNEY’S POINT MAN IN FLA. PUSHES BACK: Says Q-poll is “almost malpractice from a polling standpoint.”

RED STATE’S ERICK ERICKSON:  “I think Republicans putting their hopes in the polls all being wrong is foolish.”

ROMNEY’S NOT WORRIED: “Frankly at this early stage, polls go up, polls go down,” said Romney as quoted by ABC News.

TWEET OF THE DAY: @lennycurry: If you believe this mornings Fl Q poll I have swamp land to sell you. Come on man! This is Florida.

TAMPA BAY TIMES ADAM SMITH DOESN’T BELIEVE THE POLLS EITHER

“There is nothing automatically wrong with polls without partisan weighting, but I have been persuaded by pros from both parties that, at least in Florida with its excellent voter data, the sounder approach is to try to approximate the likely electorate,” writes Smith. “It may be instructive that Quinnipiac and the Washington Post find more Florida voters today describing themselves as independents than Republicans, but Miami will Key West will freeze over before one in three voters in November is an independent — or that Obama wins Florida by 9 percentage points.”

Concludes Smith: “My guess is Obama is slighty ahead in Florida – the RealClearPolitics average has him up by 3.1 percentage points – but blow out? Chairman Curry is right: Come on, man. This is Florida.”

ROMNEY ADDRESSES 47% IN NEW AD

Mitt Romney released a new ad to counter the fallout from his infamous 47% comments caught on hidden camera video, saying “President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families.”

CONNIE MACK’S INTERNAL POLL SAY HE’S ONLY DOWN 5%

““Our poll, which sampled 600 likely voters and had a margin of error of +/- 4% … (shows Mack) still trails by 5.4 points, 47.7% – 42.3%.”

ALLEN WEST’S ‘ANGEL OF DEATH’ SPEECH THAT NEVER WAS

West ripped President Obama’s United Nations speech Tuesday, saying he would have told the U.N. that America would be an ‘Angel of Death’ that wreaks ‘havoc and destruction’ on anyone who attacks the U.S.

DAVID RIVERA RAN SECRET CAMPAIGN, SOURCE TELLS FBI by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald

Justin Lamar Sternad, whose failed congressional campaign became the subject of a federal grand-jury investigation, has told the FBI that U.S. Rep. David Rivera was secretly behind his run for office, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald have learned.

Sternad, 35, also told authorities that his campaign manager, Ana Sol Alliegro, acted as the conduit between the campaign and Rivera, who allegedly steered unreported cash to the Democrat’s campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation and records shared with The Herald.

Sternad said Alliegro referred to the congressman by his initials, “D.R.,” and called him by the nickname, “The Gangster.”

“We will respond when these so-called ‘sources’ are willing to go on the record,” said attorney Michael R. Band, who represents Rivera. “We are not going to respond to unfounded rumors and innuendo. My client is in the middle of an election and it’s unfair for us to be shadow-boxing with unnamed sources.”

>>>@learyreports: NRCC not putting money behind Rep. David Rivera, reports The Hill

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GAMING INTERESTS CHIP IN TO RICK SCOTT’S COMMITTEE

Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming announced in July that it had reached agreement with operators of the BankAtlantic Center in Broward County to try to tap into the possibility of expanded gambling in South Florida. And this month, Boyd Gaming and a firm affiliated with the center, Arena Operating Co. Ltd., combined to contribute $55,000 to the Let’s Get to Work political committee, which is closely tied to Gov. Rick Scott. Arena Operating contributed $45,000, and Boyd contributed $10,000, according to a list of contributions on the committee’s website via the News Service of Florida. Also, Hartman and Tyner, Inc., which operates the Mardi Gras Casino in Broward, anted up $10,000 to the committee.

KOCH BROTHERS JOIN FIGHT AGAINST FLA. SUPREME COURT JUSTICES

A move to oust three justices from the Florida Supreme Court gained steam Tuesday as a conservative group critical of their rulings joined other already established opponents angered over recent decisions on a range of issues from voting rights to ObamaCare, reports the News Service of Florida.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group financially backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch, was slated to release the first in an expected series of ads aimed at removing Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince from the state’s highest court. The AFP ad criticizes the court for rejecting a legislatively sponsored constitutional proposal to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. “Many states, like Ohio, gave their citizens the right to vote against it,” the 30-second spot says. “Not Florida. Our own Supreme Court denied our right to choose for ourselves. Shouldn’t our courts protect our rights to choose.”

The ads come days after the Republican Party of Florida executive committee voted to actively oppose the judges, who all face retention elections Nov. 6. The three have also inspired support from former Justices Major Harding and Raoul Cantero, who have said the judiciary needs to be shielded from the political winds. “Maintaining the integrity and impartiality of Florida’s judges is critical to preserving the principles of democracy on which our country was founded,” Florida Bar president Gwynne Young said in a statement Tuesday. “Non-partisan merit retention elections were established by the people of Florida to ensure that the rule of law, not popular thought or political view, is the basis for all judicial decisions.”

TWO NEW POLLS SUGGEST IT’S AN OPPORTUNE TIME FOR CHARLIE CRIST TO BECOME A DEMOCRAT

Crist’s favorability rating is split evenly at 40 – 40 percent, but, according to Brown, “he would enter a primary with almost four times as many party members seeing him favorably as unfavorably.”

The Quinnipiac numbers come on top of fresh data from Public Policy Polling which shows that Crist’s numbers with Democrats are up from 44 – 33 percent to 55 – 22 percent. Forty-eight percent of voters think he should complete the switch and become a Democrat to 21% who think he should not and that sentiment is held among Democrats (61 -11 percent) and Republicans (40 – 33 percent) alike.

VOTER-REGISTRATION FIRM PAID $1.3 MIL BY RPOF TURNS IN ‘QUESTIONABLE’ REGISTRATION FORMS by George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

The Republican Party of Florida is dumping a firm it paid more than $1.3 million to register new voters, after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications turned in by the contractor this month.

Bucher asked the state attorney’s office to review the applications “in an abundance of caution” because she said her staff had questions about similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms.

The state GOP hired Strategic Allied Consultants of Glen Allen, Va., for “voter registration services” and get-out-the-vote activities. The firm got identical payments of $667,598 in July and August.

“When we learned today about the instances of potential voter registration fraud that occurred in Palm Beach County, we immediately informed the Republican National Committee that we were terminating the contract with the voter registration vendor we hired at their request because there is no place for voter registration fraud in Florida,” said RPOF Executive Director Mike Grissom late Tuesday.

AL LAWSON FUNDRAISER TONIGHT

Democratic candidate for CD 2 Al Lawson holds a fundraiser tonight at Mint Lounge in Tallahassee. Starts at 6 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I carry a 9-millimeter gun in my Dooney & Bourke that was a gift when I retired from the police department.” — Val Demings for a profile in Marie Claire magazine.

VETERANS SPEAK OUT IN DEFENSE OF BILL YOUNG IN CAMPAIGN’S FIRST TV SPOT

Here is a sneak preview of the first ad coming from Congressman Bill Young’s re-election campaign.  Young has always believed these kind of positive pieces are an important part of his campaign.
“Taking care of our nation’s heroes is one of the most important parts of my job, and it is one of the reasons Beverly and I work so hard at it every day,” said Young.  “Everyone who serves our nation in uniform is a hero, and deserves our thanks and appreciation.”

BUCHANAN-FITZGERALD RACE HEATS UP by Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The battle to represent Sarasota and Manatee counties in Congress is ramping up.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and his Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald both hit the air with new television commercials this week. And almost as quickly, both campaigns began complaining that the other is distorting facts and running a smear campaign.

But while the substance of the latest television ads and mailers are in dispute, they offer a political roadmap to paths the campaigns see to victory over the next 40 days in a race considered among the five hottest congressional battles in Florida.

IS THE DCCC ABANDONING PATRICK MURPHY?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee canceled a week of airtime in Allen West’s district starting Oct 9, according to multiple sources tracking the buy. This leads one to wonder, is the DCCC abandoning Patrick Murphy?

The DCCC has given no other indication that it’s ready to give up on the race, but, as Shira Toeplitz notes, “it’s almost never a good sign when a committee cuts airtime for a candidate.”

At least the DCCC is keeping its ad reservations for the race in the final three weeks before Election Day — at least for now.

“Patrick Murphy is ahead in the polls, and we’ve committed the resources to ensure he can win,” said Jesse Ferguson, a DCCC spokesman. “But the best resource for him to win this race is letting Allen West be Allen West.”

>>>Charlie Crist and his wife, Carole, have contributed $7,000 to Murphy, new campaign finance reports show.

JACKSONVILLE FOP BACKING NANCY SODERBERG IN SD 4 by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Democratic state Senate candidate Nancy Soderberg rolled out the support Wednesday of the Fraternal Order of Police Jacksonville.

Police have been on the other side of GOP candidate Aaron Bean the entire cycle. In the Republican primary, FOP Jacksonville backed state Rep. Mike Weinstein

KEITH PERRY WIDENS FUNDRAISING LEAD IN HD 21 RACE

Rep. Keith Perry collected $106,975 between Aug. 10 and Sept. 14, widening his fund-raising lead over Democrat Andrew Morey in House District 21.

The Republican Party of Florida transferred $49,000 to Perry, who also received contributions from a wide range of businesses and groups, such as several political committees linked to the Florida Retail Federation.

Perry has raised an overall total of $271,406, while Morey raised $24,065 during the period and has a total of $40,475.

IS HOUSE DISTRICT 55 NOW IN PLAY?

Kartik Krishnaiyer of the Political Hurricane thinks so.

In his latest rankings, he’s moved HD 55 from “Likely Republican” to “Leans Republican” as Democrat Crystal Drake has secured some impressive endorsements and local support. This rural district is ancestrally Democrat and does not perform as badly at the top of the ticket for the Ds as many may think. Pigman is still the favorite but his margin for error is slipping.

FLIERS AIM TO TAKE OUT PETER NEHR by Will Hobson of the Tampa Bay Times

In 2006 and 2008, Republican Peter Nehr beat Democrat Carl Zimmermann in close, hard-fought races for the state House of Representatives in northern Pinellas County’s District 48.

On Nov. 6, the two face each other again in the new District 65, which covers Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin.

But this time, Zimmermann, 61, a journalism teacher at Countryside High School, says he’s got a new strategy: He’s going negative. He’s handing out eye-catching fliers with two pictures of a shirtless Nehr that highlight what Zimmermann feels are the three-term incumbent’s negatives.

This isn’t exactly a new approach for Zimmermann. In 2008 he called Nehr “morally bankrupt, personally bankrupt and professionally bankrupt.”

Nehr calls the fliers “a blatant attempt … to try to grab some cheap publicity.”

FUNDRAISER FOR FRANK FARKAS TONIGHT

Senators Dennis Jones and Jack Latvala, Representatives Larry Ahern and Jeff Brandes and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster are among the hosts for a fundraiser for former Representative Frank Farkas. Tonight at 5:30 p.m. at Freedom Bank in St. Petersburg. Invite here.

>>>There’s also a fundraiser for Rep. George Moraitis today at 1 p.m. at the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee.

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DON GAETZ GAETZ’ ‘NEIGHBORHOOD DAY’ IN DEFUNIAK

Incoming Senate President Don GaetZ holds “neighborhood day,” — basically open office hours — in DeFuniak Springs.

FIVE FLORIDA GOVERNORS TO GATHER AT UF TO DISCUSS STATE’S FUTURE via Mary Ellen Klas

The Florida Law Review announces its second annual gathering of Florida’s living governors with a lecture entitled “Florida’s Future: A Conversation with Florida Governors,” in the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Oct. 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The program will feature Govs. Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, Bob Martinez, Buddy MacKay and Charlie  Crist. Absent will be former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Gov. Wayne Mixson, governor for three days during the transition of Graham from governor to the U.S. Senate. The governors will discuss “critical issues facing Florida.”

FLORIDA INSTITUTE FOR NEUROLOGIC REHABILITATION WITHDRAWS LEGAL CHALLENGE

A Hardee County rehabilitation facility that was ordered last month to discharge 50 residents has withdrawn an administrative challenge against the state, records via the News Service of Florida show.

Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk on Wednesday formally closed the case, which was filed by the Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation. Inspectors from the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration went to the facility in August amid questions about the quality of care provided to residents, who have head injuries. The state followed up by directing the institute to discharge 50 residents. The institute filed a case in the Division of Administrative Hearings, seeking to invalidate a rule that state officials used in ordering the discharges. In a document filed Tuesday, the institute did not give reasons for withdrawing the case. Earlier, however, the institute had sought a continuance in a hearing scheduled to start Thursday, saying that an expedited schedule had made it impossible to “adequately prepare.”

IF BUDGET CUTS CONTINUE, UCF MAY LIMIT ENROLLMENT

In a mostly upbeat speech about the state of the University of Central Florida, President John Hitt warned Tuesday that any future state-funding cuts could force him to limit students’ access to the nation’s second-largest public university. UCF, which has lost $144 million in state funding over the past five years, has not been able to afford to hire enough faculty to keep up with growing enrollment. The school is also running out of space for classrooms. This fall, the university passed the 60,000-student mark. “We are being frugal,” Hitt said. “However, if the state continues to reduce funding for UCF, we will have to limit access for the first time next year.”

LEROY COLLINS INSTITUTE STUDY SAYS MARKET NOT TO BLAME FOR UNDERFUNDED PENSIONS

The stock market decline that began nearly five years ago is not to blame for Florida cities’ underfunded pension systems, the LeRoy Collins Institute said in a report Wednesday.

The new report includes data from 2005 through 2011 on all 492 local government pension plans. It concludes that underfunding began before the market fell, although dropping stock prices did make the problem worse.

“It’s not necessarily the economy that’s really the issue here,” said Carol Weissert, the institute’s director and a political science professor. “There are a lot of decisions that have been made in the municipalities and the unions that are problematic.”

>>>Be sure to follow on Twitter the Collins Institute’s @DavidMatkin.

SCOTT TO HOLD 13TH ‘LET’S GET TO WORK DAY’

Rick Scott will work at the Richloam Fish Hatchery during his 13th ‘Let’s Get to Work’ Day. This state-of-the-art facility produces over two million fish each year to stock Florida’s public waters and support Florida’s role as Fishing Capital of the World.

>>>Roger Roscoe, Gov. Scott’s regional representative to the Tampa Bay area, announced last night that he has resigned. Roscoe has accepted a new position with the Florida Department of Transportation as a Government Liaison located in Tampa.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to the St. Pete Chamber’s Jillian Lusk and lobbyists Cynthia Henderson and Lori Weems.

HOW BILL CLINTON COULD BE PRESIDENT AGAIN: “There are only two countries I’m eligible to run for the leadership position is if I move to Ireland and buy a house, I can — I can run for president of Ireland, because of my Irish heritage,” Clinton told Piers Morgan. “And because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of the Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that was born in a place that ever was part of the French empire, if you move to — if you live in France for six months and speak French, you can run for president.”

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