Amid a contentious debate about a federal farm bill, protections for the sugar industry have widespread support in Congress, according to a story in The Washington Post. Florida lawmakers — ranging from Sen. Marco Rubio to U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho — are backing the industry. Here is a link to the Post story.
By Brandon Larrabee
David Jolly’s bid for Congress will feature some names familiar to Florida politicos, according to an announcement from the campaign for a Pinellas County seat in the U.S. House.
Heading up Jolly’s run in the special election will be Nick Catroppo, who worked for U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent and on Bill McCollum’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Among those in consulting or communications roles for Jolly: Marc Reichelderfer, Adam Goodman, Pat Bainter and Sarah Bascom — along with the rest of her crew at Bascom Communications & Consulting LLC. (Bascom is a cousin of Jolly’s, so her support is not all that surprising.)
“Every talented and hardworking individual on this team represents a unique advantage in this race, but collectively, they are an undeniable force to be reckoned with. I am happy today to call them my colleagues and friends in this race for Pinellas County,” Jolly said in a press release.
The group has its work cut out for them: Jolly faces a primary against state Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, and Mark Bircher, a lawyer in Seminole, followed by a general election against former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the only Democratic in the race. Libertarian Lucas Overby and write-in candidate Michael Levinson have also qualified.
The primary is set for Jan. 14, with a general election on March 11.
The full list and bios sent out by the campaign is after the jump.
By Brandon Larrabee
Gov. Rick Scott has made no secret of his admiration for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, repeatedly and light-heartedly threatening to take Perry’s crown among some business publications as the top state for job creation in the country. On Thursday, Perry returned the favor, holding a conference call with reporters in which he assailed former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist a few days after Crist announced he would run for the Democratic nomination to take on Scott in 2014.
“I know Rick Scott, and I know Charlie Crist, and I know the difference,” said Perry, the nation’s longest-serving governor.
Perry ticked off most of the talking points that Scott is expected to put at the heart of his re-election bid: Crist oversaw sizable spikes in unemployment and state debt, both of which have receded since Scott came to office. Crist has countered that the Great Recession hammered Florida while he was in office, and Scott is now benefiting from a recovery fueled by President Barack Obama’s policies. Perry, unsurprisingly, saw things differently.
“The fact is, [Scott] cleaned up the mess that Charlie Crist created,” Perry said.
There are a couple of subtexts to the conference call. First, it shows that the Republican Governors Association — which sponsored the call — is already bringing in some relatively heavy hitters on behalf of Scott. The RGA wouldn’t like to lose the Governor’s Mansion in the third-largest state in the nation, which it has held since 1998, and Scott is expected to have a tough fight on his hands against Crist.
Second, don’t forget that Perry has stoked talked of a second presidential bid in 2016 — and Florida could once again play a key role as an early and (if it avoids sanctions) delegate-rich state. Building up some favors in the state couldn’t hurt if Perry does decide to take the leap.
When George Zimmerman was acquitted in state court this summer in the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin, the verdict touched off protests across the state and country. But maybe that wasn’t the final word in the Sanford case. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that federal prosecutors have not decided whether to file civil-rights charges against Zimmerman. Here is a link to a story in The Hill.
Florida Democrats spent a bunch of time bashing Republican Gov. Rick Scott as they gathered Saturday in Orlando. But up the road, Scott spent Saturday evening at New Smyrna Speedway. Scott gave the command for drivers to start their engines for the Governor’s Cup Super Late Model race, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Here is a link to the story.
By Dara Kam
ORLANDO _ House Minority Leader Perry Thurston announced he is running for attorney general, opening up a Democratic primary in the race to unseat incumbent GOP Pam Bondi.
Thurston, D-Lauderhill, told reporters about his decision at Florida Democrats’ annual conference at the Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resort in Orlando, moments before George Sheldon, who announced his candidacy earlier this week, walked by.
Thurston said he’s got a proven track record raising money and winning elections after the House Democrats number 45, the most since 1998. Democrat Amanda Murphy just picked up a GOP seat in a highly contested Pasco County contest this month.
Sheldon, 66, recently resigned from a high-ranking post at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, once served as secretary of the state Department of Children and Families, and also worked as a deputy attorney general under former AG Bob Butterworth.
Thurston, a criminal defense and public finance lawyer, sidestepped questions about whether Sheldon is too old-school to get the nomination.
“I wouldn’t want to say that but I think that we need to be moving forward. The idea is to move forward as we look at the way Florida is structured now and that’s what we’ll be focused on,” Thurston said.
Just a few moments later, Sheldon was told that Thurston threw his hat into the race and spurred a primary.
“Obviously, you prefer not having one. But the Democratic party has always been a party that’s willing to contest issues and have a discussion. I’m confident that when the primary’s over, this is going to be a united party,” Sheldon said.
By Jim Saunders
Amid speculation about possible candidates to replace retiring Congressman C.W. Bill Young, The Tampa Tribune tossed former state House Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace’s name into the mix.
The Tribune reported that U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., suggested to Wallace that he consider the race. Wallace, a St. Petersburg attorney, was the most-recent Democratic House speaker, serving from 1994 to 1996 and lost a bid for state education commissioner in 1998.
Here is a link to the Tribune story.
By Dara Kam
The Florida Senate launched a website where members of the public can put in their two cents about destination resorts and other kinds of gambling under the microscope this session.
The Senate Gaming Committee is taking its show on the road this month and next with a series of meetings beginning in Coconut Creek on Oct. 23.
“During the 2014 Legislative Session, the Senate aims to replace the current makeshift structure with a comprehensive statewide approach to gaming policy,” Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, wrote in a memo to “community leaders and citizens” on Thursday urging people to attend the workshops.
“In particular, we are interested in public reactions to the two-part ‘Florida Gambling Impact Study,’ commissioned by the Florida Legislature earlier this year. The study provides an independent and unbiased factual assessment of the social and economic impacts of gaming,” he wrote.
Richter does not mention in the memo that Spectrum Gaming Group, the authors of report originally due Oct. 1 and for which the Legislature paid nearly $400,000, last week sought a one-month delay after state economists questioned some of the analysis.
At a committee meeting this week, Spectrum and Regional Economic Modeling Inc., or REMI, representatives said the report was incomplete. And the Legislature’s economist Amy Baker told the panel to ignore findings in the draft report, first obtained by The News Service of Florida and later released to the public, which concluded that wide-open gambling scenario of more than 33 casinos and six destination resort scattered throughout the state would cause more than a $20 million drop in state revenue. Instead, Baker said the revised analysis is expected to project more than a $1 billion gain for the state.
Read Richter’s full memo after the jump.
By Dara Kam
Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, Charlie Crist’s boss, and his wife Ultima are holding a fundraiser for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., later this month.
The fete is scheduled to take place at the Morgans’ 12,000-square-foot Heathrow home, appraised at more than $2 million, on Oct. 18, the day after Congress’s deadline to raise the debt ceiling.
“I hope you can join me in welcoming my very good friend Harry Reid. This reception comes at a very interesting time in our country’s history,” Morgan said in an e-mail to potential supporters.
The cost for the event? $35,000 to chair, $10,000 to host, $5,000 to co-sponsor and $1,000 to attend, according to an e-mail sent by Morgan to prospective supporters.
Contributions will go the “Reid Majority Fund,” a joint fundraising committee authorized by Friends for Harry Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Inc.
Secretary of State Ken Detzner kicks off a five-city “Project Integrity” tour in Panama City today to educate supervisors of elections about a controversial non-citizen voter purge.
Detzner’s staff distributed a flow chart and FAQ to supervisors laying out the process state and local officials will use to determine whether someone should be removed from the voting rolls.
Despite assurances from Detzner, supervisors remain skeptical about the purge based on their experiences last year. Lists generated by Detzner’s office created by matching voter registration data and driver’s license records flagged thousands, many of whom turned out to be citizens and therefore eligible to vote. More than half of those flagged on one list were minorities, a voting bloc that played a huge role in President Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.
In a telephone conference with reporters Thursday morning, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasted Gov. Rick Scott, who’s pushed the non-citizen voter purge, for resuming what Schultz called an “unmitigated disaster” last year.
“Rick Scott and his Republican friends can’t win elections on their merits so they resort to intimidation and voter suppression,” Wasserman Schultz said.
But in a list of frequently asked questions accompanying the clear-as-mud – but colorful – voter purge road map, Detzner’s staff rebutted accusations that “Project Integrity” targets anyone.
“Is the identification process being directed at any particular group of registered voters on the basis of ethnic and racial grounds?
Florida will be checking the legal status of all registered voters. Additionally, Florida is simply performing its continuous duty under state and federal law to ensure the voter rolls are accurate which duty is a key part of administering elections effectively and fairly. The process is not directed at any group of registered voters. Only eligible voters should be registered. This activity is not distinct from the other routine list-maintenance activities that the Department of State and the Supervisor of Elections conduct year-round even during election cycles whenever it receives or has access to information that a registered voter may be potentially ineligible.”