A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics sponsored by Tucker/Hall — a top-notch public affairs and public relations firm. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team, success stories and case studies.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The big news this week will come on Friday, as the Revenue Estimating Conference meets to hammer out a mid-year estimate for next year’s revenue picture. It’s the main forecast for available money as lawmakers start contemplating the budget, though there will be an update in the spring once legislators actually start crafting the spending plan.
The overall picture for revenue has looked better this year than in nearly half a decade, with the state coming out of recession. But one major thing looms large – and inconclusive – the fiscal cliff. If federal politicians can’t hammer out a plan, all bets are off. Still, officials expect the state to start the new calendar with an in-the-black revenue picture.
State elections officials this week will visit several South Florida counties to begin breaking down what happened to slow down lines, and later vote counting, on Election Day. The state hasn’t put out a public schedule for the visits yet.
Also this week, expect legislation to continue to be filed, though the next legislative committee week isn’t until the week of Jan. 14.
The News Service of Florida offers a detailed preview here.
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Public Affairs Consultants Inc., one of the oldest and most well respected Public Affairs and Governmental Consulting firms in Florida. The PA Team of Jack and Keyna Cory and Erin Daly have represented clients before the Florida Legislature, state agencies and local governments for over 20 years. They don’t just show up for the legislative session. Instead they custom design and implement a Grassroots Program for each of their Clients that functions all year long. As one former legislator stated, “They are tough, well-organized, dedicated to their clients and in full command of the facts.”***
OBAMA’S APPROVAL RATING JUMPS TO 53%
A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Obama’s approval rate at 53% to 40%, his best score in three years.
Voters also trust Obama and Democrats more than Republicans, by a 53% to 36% margin, to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
“Nothing like winning an election to boost your job approval,” said pollster Peter Brown. “President Obama hasn’t had a score this good since his 52 – 40 percent approval rating May 5, 2011, right after the death of Osama bin Laden. This is only the second time in more than three years that President Obama has broken 50 percent. And voters see Republicans as more likely to be obstructionist, and have less confidence in their ability to come up with the right solution to the nation’s financial woes.”
OBAMA MAY BE SWORN IN IN PRIVATE by Politico
President Obama’s swearing-in ceremony for a second term may take place in private.
“Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts will officially administer the official oath of office in a private ceremony that day. The public inauguration on the Capitol Building’s West Front — at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office — will take place the next day.”
FISCAL CLIFF COULD PUSH FLORIDA OFF THE LEDGE by John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post
Congressional inaction on the fiscal cliff, with its looming year-end tax increases and automatic budget cuts, would cost Florida governments millions of dollars in federal aid and could rock the state’s still-fragile economy.
But even a deal to avoid it could hurt, Florida economists and lawmakers fear.
State and local governments are projected to lose $435.5 million in federal funds in 2013 if Congress and President Barack Obama fail to reach a new deal. Going over the cliff also could have an $8 billion effect on Florida’s economy and cost almost 80,000 jobs, analysts told legislators last week.
“Even if there is a new agreement…it will have an impact on Florida’s budget,” Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research, told a Senate budget committee last week.
She said “a couple hundred million dollars, if not more,” in federal support to the state is likely to be lost in any deal aimed at reining in the deficit.
CRIST GOES D
Charlie Crist — the former Florida governor elected as a Republican but turned independent — is now a Democrat, the Tampa Bay Times first reported.
He did so during a Christmas reception at the White House, where President Obama greeted the news with a fist bump for the man who had a higher profile campaigning for Obama’s reelection this year than any Florida Democrat.
RPOF IS APOPLECTIC
“Charlie Crist’s first official act as a Democrat was to tell a lie about why he is now pretending to be one. The truth is that this self-professed, Ronald-Reagan Republican only abandoned his pro-life, pro-gun, conservative principles in 2010 after he realized that Republicans didn’t want to send him to Washington D.C. as a senator, especially after he proved he couldn’t do the job as governor.”
BLOG POST OF THE DAY – THE CONVERTED AND THE FAITHFUL by Ben Kirby of the Spencerian
And by “faithful,” I mean those who just finished walking neighborhoods for Obama… and who walked those same neighborhoods in 2008. I mean those who campaigned for Kendrick Meek when Charlie Crist was telling Republicans he would caucus with them if elected (and then followed that by saying “who cares!” when asked who he would caucus with, giving Marco Rubio a too-good-to-miss entree into one of the best political ads, maybe ever). I mean the Florida Democratic faithful who poured their souls into a failed recount effort in 2000. I mean the faithful who still remember the Bob Graham days, the Lawton Chiles days.
I hope we Democrats can maintain just a touch of skepticism, even as we, in true Southern form, welcome Governor Crist to the Party.
COMPILATION OF ANALYSIS AND REACTION here.
REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS EXPRESS DISDAIN
Several Republican lawmakers, many of whom did not care for Crist when he was in the GOP, are taking shots at the former governor:
Rep. Larry Ahern: “I’m glad to see Charlie finally made it to Washington and the White House. All he had to do was forsake his morals, principles and values and join the Democratic Party. For a someone like Charlie, that has to seem a fair trade.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz via Twitter: “He’s running out of parties to double-cross.”
Rep. Carlos Trujillo: “Such a mockery of the political process.”
TAMPA BAY DEMS TWEET SUPPORT
@DarrylRouson: Glad to have @charliecristfl in our party #bigtent
@KenWelch: @charliecristfl Welcome on board my friend!
@Kriseman: Charlie Crist has declared himself a Democrat. The Democratic Party should welcome him and anyone else dissatisfied w/ GOP.
THE PENALTY FOR SWITCHING PARTIES
Aside from the PR boost, party-switchers fairly reliably change their votes to reflect their new parties’ views, as political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal have found. But the general public is more suspicious.
“Voters punish members who switch parties,” Yoshinaka writes in a 2011 paper he co-authored with Christian Grose. “On average, switchers lose about seven percentage points in all elections after they switch.”
SCOTT PREVIEWS RE-ELECTION STRATEGY by Bill Cotterell of the Florida Current
In his brief, unscripted remarks to the GOP executive panel Saturday, Scott said the party lost races it should have won last month. Now, he said, GOP activists need to set a serious goal of winning every race in 2014 — and hold themselves accountable for every gain that Democrats make.
“I don’t know why anyone is not a Republican,” Scott said. He said elderly voters, college students, immigrants — all voting blocs the GOP lost or had trouble with this year — should be voting for conservatives who will lower taxes, bring jobs to the state and protect Social Security, Medicare and education programs.
“We have elections coming up, now, in a little less than two years,” Scott said. “We should win every election. Our expectation should be, why would anyone vote for anyone except a Republican?”
***Today’s SUNBURN is sponsored by the Smart Justice Summit. With an eye towards creating Smart Justice legislation for the state, the Florida Smart Justice Summit will convene December 12-14 to develop a far-reaching initiative that offers common sense ideas to improve outcomes, reduce costs and enhance public safety for the people of Florida. For more information, visit JusticeSummit.org.***
SUN SENTINEL EDITORIAL: CONNIE MACK LEAVES ON A SOUR NOTE
(H)e leaves Congress under a political cloud after his last-minute push on a bill that would benefit a key political donor.
… To call Singer a “sugar daddy” is within the bounds of reason. Employees of his hedge fund contributed $39,413 to Connie Mack’s failed Senate campaign. And a political action committee Singer backed spent more than $400,000 attacking Bono Mack’s opponent, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
SENS. BENACQUISTO, GARCIA FILE FOR RE-ELECTION
Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Rene Garcia filed paperwork this week that is a first step toward seeking re-election in 2014, according to the Division of Elections website.
Benacquisto would seek re-election in Senate District 30, while Garcia would run again in District 38.
Rep. Jimmy Patronis filed papers signaling he could run in 2016 for the Senate District 1 seat currently held by Senate President Don Gaetz, who is scheduled to leave office that year because of term limits.
EIGHT OTHER LAWMAKERS FILE FOR RE-ELECTION
Eight incumbents who filed the paperwork this week were Rep. Clay Ford in House District 2; Rep. Charlie Stone in House District 22; Rep. Dennis Baxley in House District 23; Rep. Linda Stewart in House District 47; Rep. John Tobia in House District 53; Rep. Shevrin Jones in House District 101; Rep. Kionne McGhee in House District 117; and Rep. Holly Raschein in House District 120.
Filing the paperwork with the Division of Elections, at least in part, allows candidates to raise money for the campaigns.
LEAGUE OF CITIES OUTLINES PRIORITIES FOR 2013 by Jim Turner of Sunshine State News
The Florida League of Cities outlined its priorities for the 2013 legislative session that include support for a statewide sustainable energy program, home rule on billboards, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s crackdown on synthetic drugs, and the ability of local governments to set their own fertilizer ordinances.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Michael Batts: First Baptist Church of Orlando, Inc.
Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick: South Florida Automobile Dealers Association
Jason Unger: Darden Restaurants
***The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit www.healthcareflorida.com.***
APPOINTED: Timothy J. Koenig: Third District Court of Appeal Judicial Court; Michael P. Beltran: Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Court; Michael C. Sasso: Fifth District Court of Appeal Judicial Court; R. Todd Harris: First Circuit Judicial Court; Edwin A. Scales, III: Sixteenth Circuit Judicial Court; Robert B. Shillinger, Jr.: Chief Assistant County Attorney for Monroe County; Alan H. Landman: Eighteenth Circuit Judicial Court; Benjamin L. Bedard: Nineteenth Circuit Judicial Court; Steven G. Gieseler: Nineteenth Circuit Judicial Court; Kathleen M. Fitzgeorge: Twentieth Circuit Judicial Court
SNAPSHOTS OF THE THREE FINALISTS FOR EDUCATION COMMISSIONER
Three of more than 50 applicants will interview for Florida’s education commissioner job this week. Each has credentials in the education “reform” world. In their applications, each made statements about their interest in the job.
Tony Bennett: “Throughout my career and through my last four years as Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, I have been committed to setting high expectations and holding everyone accountable — students, educators, administrators and me. It’s why I keep a scoreboard in my office, and it’s why I get up every day thinking about how to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students. I would welcome the opportunity to continue this work in Florida.”
Randy Dunn: “Florida has made bold, innovative moves nationally and can be proud of where it is leading on numerous reform initiatives. Other areas come to mind where more needs to be done to move the needle for the state — early childhood policy is one of those meriting continued study. But no matter what Florida desires to accomplish for the future of its 3.5 million students … it is going to take a commissioner of education who will embrace those same ends with an energy, passion, expertise, commitment and record of achievement equal to the task. I believe I can be just such an individual….”
Charles Hokanson Jr.: “I have long been very excited by the fresh, common-sense vision and leadership in education policy that governors Bush and then Scott have provided the state, and by the state Legislature’s and state Board’s clear focus on prioritizing the reform of the state’s preK-20 education system and on providing transparency, an abundance of data, increasing excellence and diverse, plentiful schooling options to Florida families.”
STATE SET TO PAY BACK MASSIVE FEDERAL LOAN by Whitney Ray of the Capitol News Service
Nearing the finish line; for three years Florida’s businesses have been paying back a massive loan borrowed from the federal government to pay unemployment claims.
“By May, 2013, we will have repaid the outstanding balance,” said James Miller, a spokesman with the Department of Economic Opportunity.
Miller says the improving economy is allowing the state to make huge payments on the loan.
“More people receiving paychecks instead of benefits, reduces the cost to the state and therefore we don’t have to pay as much in claims each month. It allows us to pay back the amount much quicker,” said Miller.
***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Ron Sachs Communication. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com ***
AWWWW: The White House released their 2012 holiday card this week, featuring first dog Bo.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY over the weekend to investigative reporter Mike Deeson, one of our favorites Ashley Intartaglia, Beth Lerner and today to Nicole Krassner (Dan’s better half).
ROMNEY ATTENDED PACQUIAO VS. MARQUEZ FIGHT: “Hello Manny. I ran for president. I lost,” Romney told the fighter, according to Pacquiao publicist Fred Sternburg.