Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.
I GET OFF A CRUISE AND THE 2018 ELECTIONS GET UNDERWAY…
… at least that’s what it felt like to me as I disembarked from the Disney Magic after four wonderful days away from Sunburn (well, truth be told, there’s a patch of sunburn on top of my head). Two stories dominated Thursday’s Florida politics news, and while they certainly say a lot about what may happen in the year ahead, they are just as much about the 2018 elections.
Marco Rubio returned to Washington, D.C. and promptly put an end to speculation that he would run for re-election to the U.S. Senate or for Governor in 2018.
“I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president. I’m just not gonna — I’m not interested in being vice president. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. I’m not going to be vice president. I’m not running for governor of Florida,” Rubio said.
“I’m going to finish out my term in the Senate over the next 10 months. We’re going to work really hard here and we have some things we want to achieve,” the one-term senator said. “And then I’ll be a private citizen in January.”
While Rubio was taking himself out of the 2018 mix, Rick Scott‘s office confirmed the worst kept secret in Tallahassee: chief of staff Melissa Sellers is leaving the administration April 1. Sellers plans to launch a political consulting business that will work closely with Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get To Work.
With those twin moves — Rubio hanging it up and Sellers hanging out her own shingle — the 2018 election cycle in Florida is officially underway.
Beyond its impact for 2016, Rubio’s retreat means the GOP nomination for governor is Adam Putnam‘s to lose. With more than $3.3 million in his “Florida Grown” political committee and three decades worth of wining political campaigns, Putnam is now the de facto frontrunner for the Republicans.
But ask Jeb Bush what its liked to be tagged with the frontrunner label early on.
Florida Politics was recently told by one A-list Republican that former Speaker Will Weatherford asked they not make any firm commitments right now about the 2018 race. Does that mean Weatherford will run? Not at all, but it’s no secret he’s thinking about it.
Weatherford’s supporters contend he would be able to raise $10 million in his first month on the campaign trail. More important, they say, he has a message that would contrast with that of Putnam, who they point out has been in political office since he was 21.
If not Weatherford, Putnam will face a challenge from some quarter, most likely from a self-financed outsider ala Rick Scott.
As for Scott, it’s clear by Sellers’ decision to set up shop in Tallahassee that he’s running in 2018. That may seem obvious now, but if you would have said anytime before 2015 that Scott, with his cellar-dwelling approval numbers, would be a contender in a 2018 race, you’d have been laughed out of the Governors Club.
One potential candidate who says we won’t see them running in 2018 to replace Scott is Pam Bondi.
Right after after Fox News’ Neil Cavuto introduced her as a “frontrunner, maybe” for Governor, the Republican Attorney General squashed the idea.
“I will say on the record, I am not running for governor,” Bondi said. “I’m supporting Adam Putnam who I feel, he is our Agricultural Commissioner, and I think he’ll be a great governor for our state.”
Put Bondi down for making the first endorsement in an election cycle more than three years away.
… BUT ENOUGH ABOUT 2018, LET’S STAY FOCUSED ON 2016
MARCO RUBIO: I WON’T BE ANYONE’S VP via Burgess Everett of POLITICO – Rubio ruled out becoming a vice presidential candidate … “Clearly, Ted [Cruz]’s positions are conservative, but I don’t have anything further to elaborate on. I don’t have anything to announce,” Rubio said … “Hopefully there’s still time to prevent a Trump nomination, which I think would fracture the party and be damaging to the conservative movement.” But Rubio ruled out a “unity ticket” as vice president to Cruz — or to anyone else, for that matter: “I’m not going to be anybody’s vice president.” Rubio said he will throw himself headlong back into a job that he all but abandoned months ago.
RUBIO NEARS TED CRUZ ENDORSEMENT via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Rubio is close to endorsing Ted Cruz, but the two proud senators … have some details to work out first. Cruz has to ask for the Rubio’s endorsement, and both sides need to decide that it will make a difference, according to sources familiar with the thinking of both senators.
CLUES IN DONALD TRUMP’S FLORIDA DOMINATION ABOUT THE GENERAL ELECTION via Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The turnout numbers from Trump’s 19-point victory indicate the New York billionaire’s pugilistic, anti-establishment rhetoric helped expand the Republican electorate, but the ramifications of that as the campaign transitions from primary to general election remain the subject of dissection by political pros of all partisan persuasions. “I don’t deny he’s bringing in new people, but it’s being offset by the people who are coming in to vote against him and the people who are already here who don’t support him,” said Tim Miller, who served as communication director for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign and is now spokesman for Our Principles, the anti-Trump super PAC. Exit polls Tuesday night showed an average of 38 percent of the Republican voters in the five states where primaries were held, including Florida, said they would consider voting for a third party candidate if Trump won the GOP nomination.
DISHEARTENED POLITICIANS BACKING RUBIO NOT READY TO MOVE ON TO DONALD TRUMP via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – “It is very difficult for me to see Rubio move on,” state Rep. Julio Gonzalez … a member of Rubio’s Florida leadership team, said. “I feel Marco had the best qualities of any of the other 17 candidates that had put themselves out there. All of the rest of the candidates are seriously flawed.” He’s hardly alone. More than a half-dozen members of Rubio’s leadership team in Florida said over the last 48 hours that they are not ready to unite behind Trump, with many leaving open the possibility of never getting behind him and holding out a glimmer of hope that a contested Republican National Convention could revive Rubio’s chances. For those running for re-election and facing Republican primaries in the fall, supporting Trump or not has consequences that could affect their own races. Rather than committing, many are just staying out of the discussion all together.
DAVID JOLLY, TODD WILCOX TRADE JABS OVER “INSIDER” POLITICIAN CLAIMS via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – With Florida’s presidential primary all of 38 hours in the rearview mirror, Florida U.S. Senate candidates are now ready to take center stage. That was clear … when Jolly tried to ignite a mini-Twitter feud with fellow Republican Wilcox over who is the insider candidate in an election year that has so far been defined by who is the outsider candidate. Just before 9 a.m. Jolly started the skirmish accusing Wilcox of lifting parts of GOP presidential candidate John Kasich‘s budget plan and adopting it as his own. In a series of tweets, Jolly says Wilcox cannot take and “insiders” budget plan and call it an outsider plan. Wilcox, a businessman, fired back, making sure to note that Jolly is a congressman and a “Washington Politician” and even includes a little dig on being a K-Street insider.
TWEET, TWEET: @GoMeteoric: Leave it to a Lobbyist/Congressman to mock balancing the budget and giving tax relief.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The Tiger Bay Club of Tampa will host a town hall debate between Jolly and Wilcox beginning noon at the Chester H. Ferguson Law Center, 1610 North Tampa St. next to Stetson Law School. More information and RSVP at www.tigerbay.com.
CARLOS BERUFF SAYS HIS BUSINESS HISTORY IS WHY HE WOULD BE GOOD FOR SENATE via Florida Politics – At a meeting of the NW Orange Republican Women Federated … Senate hopeful Beruff outlined why he would be right for the job. [He spoke] about his upbringing and business acumen. His family immigrated from Cuba to the U.S. in 1957, after a failed attack on the presidential palace in Havana. “My mother was the only woman conspirator in that pack,” he said. “She ran an exile to Miami, where I was born in 1958. I got the lottery ticket to be an American citizen that day. My brother and sister were both born in Havana. Two years we went back to Cuba, thinking Fidel Castro was gonna be a great guy. That didn’t work out too well.” Beruff said his record of creating businesses and jobs as a homebuilder in Manatee County convinced him he could do the same on a larger scale in the Senate. “I’ve created jobs, I’ve stimulated the economy, and I’ve built a business,” he said. “I can do that for the nation.”
CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA PLANS ‘FLORIDA FIRST’ CAMPAIGN SWING via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Republican Senate hopeful will kick off his “Florida First Tour” April 4 … the tour will give Lopez-Cantera a chance to meet with Floridians to talk about job creation, economic opportunity, education and veterans’ services.
— “Patrick Murphy announces endorsement of 45 congressional Democrats” via POLITICO
WHO WILL REPLACE JEFF MILLER? via Will Isern of the Pensacola News-Journal – As the political dominoes begin to fall following Miller‘s announcement that he will not seek re-election, several names are being floated as potential candidates to replace the outgoing congressman … The name mentioned more than others is that of state Sen. Greg Evers … If Evers does announce a run for Miller’s seat, it would open up a three-way race among the local state representatives to fill his Senate seat. State Reps. Clay Ingram, Mike Hill and Doug Broxson … Would announce for Evers’ seat should he run for Congress. One name that can be ruled out of contention for Miller’s seat is state Sen. Don Gaetz, who announced on that he would not run. … Matt Gaetz, however, is expected to announce for Miller’s seat … Other names being floated are Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford, and Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. If Evers does announce and the three representatives all vie for his seat, Pensacola Republican power broker Jim Reeves says a slew of new faces are likely to emerge to run for the state House … electrical engineer Scott Adams and Escambia Republican Executive Committee member Jeremy Evans to contend for Ingram’s District 1 seat … Frank White, son-in-law of Sandy Sansing, would run for Hill’s District 2 seat; and Santa Rosa County Commissioner Jayer Williamson would purse Doug Broxson‘s District 3 seat.
CORRINE BROWN FUNDRAISES FOR IMPENDING “COURT BATTLE” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – This can’t be a good sign … “Friends of Congresswoman Corrine Brown 2016” is raising money for an impending legal battle. It’s not anything to do with One Door for Education. Rather, it’s a more familiar fight. Brown writes, “as you probably know, I’m in the fight of my political life. Bullies have played a dirty trick to force me out of office by redrawing my Congressional district to cover a largely rural area of north Florida and include 22 prisons, and convicted felons can’t vote … This dirty trick would prevent me from representing so many of the Florida communities I love. Before I took office no African-American in Florida had never been elected to Congress.”
FOUR ST. PETERSBURG CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ENDORSE CHARLIE CRIST via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times – Darden Rice, Jim Kennedy, Karl Nurse and Lisa Wheeler-Brown threw their support behind Crist, who is currently battling former Obama administration official Eric Lynn for the Democratic nomination in the 13th Congressional District. Crist, said Rice, was the right candidate to cut through the “obstruction” and “partisan battles” in Washington, D.C. The former governor is non-partisan, cooperative and listens to people, said Kennedy. He supports education and environmental progress, said Nurse. And, perhaps, most interestingly, Crist, a veteran politician whose public career stretches back nearly 25 years, represents a fresh face for the nation’s capital, said Wheeler-Brown.
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— MORE FROM THE 2016 CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
SAVE THE DATE: Friends of Florida Agriculture is hosting a barbecue event Saturday, April 2, honoring Putnam and featuring Republican U.S. Senate candidates Ron DeSantis, Lopez-Cantera and Wilcox. Event begins 12 p.m. at the Ben Hill Griffin’s Peace River Ranch, 1445 Ben Hill Griffin Road in Zolfo Springs. Tickets are $25 per person, $50 per family (kids come free), and are available at www.Floridagrown.eventbright.com. RSVP with Julie Fazekas at RSVP@AdamPutnam.com or (863) 537-7001.
RITCH WORKMAN NOT LEAVING STATE SENATE RACE — NO MATTER WHAT MIKE HARIDOPOLOS IS SAYING via Florida Politics – Workman, term-limited from running again for the Florida House, says the former Senate President is contacting political allies in Tallahassee and in the newly-renumbered SD 17 floating his possible candidacy in the race and, to Workman’s chagrin, saying Workman intends to drop out of the race. Workman [said] Haridopolos is free to jump into the campaign, but he’s dismayed Haridopolos would use what he characterized as underhanded tactics in order to strong-arm his way into the seat. “He is welcome to get in the race,” said Workman, “but to start his campaign on a straight faced lie is disappointing.”
LINDA CHAPIN ENDORSES MIKE CLELLAND FOR SENATE via Florida Politics – Former Orange County Mayor Chapin came out with an endorsement of former House Rep. Clelland in his run for the open SD 13 seat Thursday. Chapin, the first Orange mayor elected countywide, trumpeted Clelland’s past experience in the Legislature and as a community leader in her endorsement of Clelland, a fellow Democrat. “I am endorsing Mike Clelland for Florida Senate because he has demonstrated the courage to take on entrenched political interests on behalf of our citizens,” said Chapin in a glowing review. “He is a lifelong public servant who will fight for working families in Central Florida.”
ED NARAIN PROUD OF HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE HOUSE, READY TO ADVANCE IN THE SENATE via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The 39-year-old second-term representative from Tampa had a very good session, as good as any member in the House Democratic caucus … sponsoring a bill to remove and replace the statue of General Edmund Kirby Smith from the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. … also sponsored the legislation in the House that finally addresses the legacy of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna … If things go as he intends, Narainwill be serving in the state Senate in 2017. Last week he made the somewhat surprising announcement that he will take on fellow Democrats Betty Reed and Darryl Rouson for the state Senate District 19 … Narain said from the time he started working in the House last year he’s been fending off requests that he run for the Senate.
RAY PILON JUMPS INTO SENATE RACE; EDWARD JAMES NOW UNOPPOSED IN HD 72 via Florida Politics – Pilon decided to forgo a 2016 re-election bid for a fourth term in the House in favor of a Senate District 28 campaign, leaving his Democratic opponent Edward James running unopposed in a coastal swing seat. Pilon said his decision came from the resolution of Senate maps and local considerations. Sarasota Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters declared publicly last year Pilon would not seek the seat when rumors first emerged, but Pilon said that contradicted his camp’s internal thinking. “We were honestly contemplating it (then),” Pilon said. “We saw what the maps were, took time to explore it and network it and made our decision.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Democratic Senate District 34 hopeful Gary Farmer is hosting a grand opening celebration for his Fort Lauderdale office. Event is Saturday, beginning 9 a.m. at the Rose Valley Arts Building, 2300 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Suite 300 in Fort Lauderdale. Parking is free and light refreshments and breakfast will be provided. More information with field director Jacob Flaherty at (845) 264-2783.
SAVE THE DATE: Democrat Jim Waldman is holding a volunteer organizing brunch Saturday for his campaign for Senate District 34. Event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. RSVP online for location details.
— “Wayne Harris adds $15K to pass 6-figure mark in HD 4 race” via Florida Politics
HD 11 CONTEST GETS CROWDED, AS SEVENTH REPUBLICAN ENTERS RACE via Florida Politics – David Bunk of Fernandina Beach put in his paperwork … now faces fellow Republicans Cord Byrd, Jack Daniels, Barry Holloway, Donnie Horner, Tom Taylor and Sheri Treadwell in the race for [Janet] Adkins’ seat, which covers northern Duval County and all of Nassau County. Horner currently leads the pack in fundraising, with more than $100,000 in contributions, though Treadwell has a slight advantage in cash on hand. Heading into March, Treadwell had about $88,000 on hand while Horner had just under $82,000.
DEMOCRAT PRESTON OUGHTON FILES IN HD 16 via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics – Oughton is an attorney and a graduate of the local Florida Coastal School of Law. Oughton will face the winner of the primary between School Board member Jason Fischer and Dick Kravitz, a former State Legislator who now works in a greeter/customer service role at the Duval County Supervisor of Elections even while he runs an active campaign, a position Kravitz secured after endorsing the Supervisor of Elections in last year’s election. No matter whether Kravitz or Fischer emerges, Oughton faces an uphill battle in terms of fundraising.
AFTER OPPONENTS DROP OUT, SCOTT PLAKON DRAWS ONE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGE IN HD 29 via Florida Politics – Fred Marra filed for the Seminole County seat earlier this month and, with Libertarian David Leavitt and fellow Democrat Chuck O’Neal both ending their HD 29 campaigns, he is currently the only candidate challenging Plakon.
BRUCE ANTONE DRAWS DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY CHALLENGER IN HD 46 via Florida Politics – Democrat Sheena Meade filed to run for the House District 46 seat … she plans to peg Antone as one of the “same old elected officials” practicing the “same old politics” voters are frustrated with. Meade, 20, said her campaign’s message will include a “renewed focus on early childhood education, a common-sense approach to increasing homeownership within the district, a more hands-on role in supporting classroom teachers and ensuring that we prioritize school spending directly on students and classrooms.” Currently, Antone and Meade are the only two candidates filed to run for the Orange County seat, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 5-to-1.
RENE PLASENCIA’S INTERN FILES IN HD 49 RACE via Florida Politics – Amber Mariano filed paperwork to run for the seat as a Republican … joining Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith, who worked as former chief of staff for Rep. Joe Saunders when he held the seat from 2012 through 2014. HD 49 has a sizable Democratic majority and was a big pickup for Republicans in 2014, when Plasencia squeaked by Saunders with 51 percent of the vote. The district, which includes the University of Central Florida and its trove of young voters, has about 11,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. When he won his only term in the House, Saunders defeated Republican Marco Pena with 56 percent of the vote.
— “Brian Hodgers widens fundraising lead in HD 52 race” via Florida Politics
SEAN SHAW THANKS SUPPORTERS FOR EARLY FUNDRAISING PUSH via Florida Politics – “In just 72 hours, you’ve given more than $5,000,” said Shaw. “Because of your response, we’re already putting together our team and building the GOTV operation that will win here.” The Princeton graduate and former Insurance Consumer Advocate … is hoping his third crack at the House will be a winner. Shaw ran in Rep. Alan Williams‘ Tallahassee-based HD 8 back in 2008 and in HD 61 in 2014. So far no other candidate has filed in the east Tampa seat, left vacant when Rep. Ed Narain announced a run for state Senate. “With the election more than five months away, there’s lots of work to do,” said Shaw.
SAVE THE DATE: Republican Kathleen Peters is holding a fundraiser Wednesday, March 30, for her House District 69 re-election effort. Event begins 5:30 p.m. at the Edwards group 150 Second Ave. N., Suite 1600 in St. Petersburg.
— “Byron Donalds adds nearly $7K for HD 80 run, hitting $90K” via Florida Politics
SCANDAL-PLAGUED DAVID RIVERA MOUNTING LEGISLATIVE COMEBACK via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “Today I launched my candidacy for the Florida House of Representatives in District 118!” Rivera wrote in an email to potential supporters … “And the best part is, I have already gathered nearly 2,000 petition signatures from voters within the district who want me to serve as their representative in Tallahassee.” Rivera’s announcement comes a day after his former friend, Marco Rubio, withdrew from the presidential race after he was shellacked by Donald Trump in [the] Florida primary. Top Rubio supporters dislike Rivera and many tried to keep him away from the presidential campaign, with mixed success. Rivera remains under federal investigation for his alleged participation in a scheme to fund a ringer candidate with at least $81,000 in secret money to undermine a rival in a 2012 congressional race.
IN DEBUT RE-ELECTION VIDEO, MIAMI-DADE MAYOR EMBRACES COUNTY’S RECOVERY FROM RECESSION via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is linking his tenure with the local economy’s recovery from a housing crash and brutal recession. “How things have changed since Mayor Carlos Gimenez took office four years ago,” the narrator states, citing increased housing sales, employment and the largest property-tax cut in the history of the county. “Mayor Gimenez kept his promises.” Gimenez took office in 2011 on the promise of reversing the increase in property-tax rates that his predecessor implemented. Gimenez delivered on the 12-percent cut, undoing the increase championed by then-Mayor Carlos Alvarez, who was recalled weeks before Gimenez took office in a special election. The Gimenez video was produced by Miami-Dade Residents First, one of his political committees backing Gimenez’s re-election. It was the first video from Gimenez, and follows a string of videos challenger Raquel Regalado has been producing since before she joined the mayoral race in early 2015.
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RICK SIGNS BUDGET, VETOES $256 MILLION AS PROMISED via the Associated Press — Scott signed the $82 billion budget on Thursday, following through with planned budget vetoes he announced earlier this week. The Republican governor vetoed dozens of spending items, including money for roads, cultural projects, health care and law-enforcement programs.This year’s total amount of budget vetoes is less than half of what the governor eliminated last year. Last year, his nearly $500 million worth of budget vetoes sparked the ire of top legislators since they came with little notice.
TOP AIDES TO SCOTT — MELISSA SELLERS, TIM CERIO — STEPPING DOWN via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press – Scott announced that his Chief of Staff and general counsel are stepping down from their posts. Their last day is April 1. Sellers has been Scott’s chief of staff since November 2014. Cerio has been Scott’s general counsel since January 2015. Cerio previously worked at the Gray Robinson law firm and is returning to private practice.
FLASHBACK to 2/22 on Florida Politics: “Maybe Sellers really will leave the administration … right before Sellers ties the knot April 16.”
BOOK IT: Deputy Chief of Staff Kim McDougal will replace Sellers as CoS.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD DELIVERS 12,000 PETITIONS OPPOSING ABORTION BILL via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The group, led by National Organization for Women’s lobbyist Barbara DeVane and Regina Sheridan, a Tallahassee-based activist, asked to meet with the governor about the petitions, but an aide told them he was not in the office. The petitions in part read, “Instead of attacking women’s rights and endangering their health, the legislature should focus on improving women’s health.” HB 1411 would create tough new rules for clinics, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges or transfer agreements with nearby hospitals and treating them more similarly to surgical centers under the law. It defines in statute the length of each trimester of a pregnancy, aligning with arguments used by the state in a battle with Planned Parenthood. The bill would also cut all Medicaid funding for non-abortion services — like cancer screenings or STD tests — at any clinic that performs elective abortions. Abortion rights activists argue that the combined effect of all these provisions is fewer clinics.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GAMBLING IN FLORIDA: COURTS CALL THE SHOTS via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – When legislators finished their annual session without a gaming bill or a compact with the Seminole Tribe, they raised the stakes on the future of casinos in Florida … precisely where gaming opponents want it. Instead of lawmakers deciding the future of expanded gambling, that decision will now be made by the courts in pending lawsuits before the Florida Supreme Court and a federal judge. The court could conclude that lawmakers have no authority to authorize slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties without statewide voter approval, thereby neutering the Legislature’s influence. It could say that only the Legislature can decide where to put new games. Or a third option — the most explosive of all and the one the plaintiffs are hoping for — could open the door to unprecedented expansion of slot machines if the court rules that Palm Beach and Gadsden counties could seek permits to install slots machines because local voters have approved it. “It could become a free-for-all for slot machines across the state,” said Rep. Jose Felix Diaz … who spent the last six months trying to work out a compact with the governor and the tribe, as well as a gaming bill that suited the Senate and the diverse interests of the pari-mutuel industry.
FPL SUBMITS $1.3 BILLION PROPOSAL TO PSC via Jim Ash of WFSU – Millions of Florida Power and Light customers would see higher monthly bills if regulators approve the investor-owned utility’s $1.3 billion proposal … to help pay for infrastructure improvements. The company says the increases would cover the costs of strengthening power lines, three large solar energy centers and to complete a natural gas plant in Okeechobee County, among other things. The proposal asks for annual increases, beginning with 866 million in 2017 … the typical customer bill will grow at roughly the rate of inflation from now through 2020.
NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS
Jennifer Helen Ashton: First Protective Insurance Company
Joseph Farrell: Hernando County Association of Realtors; Pinellas Realtor Organization
Edgar Fernandez, Anfield: City of Flagler Beach; IBS Construction Group
Cynthia Henderson, Cynergy Consulting: CIOX Health; Shiver Properties
Berdell Knowles, John Allen Worley Jr.: JEA
Jerry Presley, Presley Consulting Group: Central Florida Small Business Council
Scott Ross, Kenneth Granger, Capital City Consulting: GDKN Corporation
Wansley Walters, Stephanie Grutman Zauder, Ballard Partners: Global Tel*Link Corporation; Florida Juvenile Justice Association; Uber Technologies
Derek Whitis, Whitis Consulting: Florida Psychological and Associated Healthcare; Florida Psychological Associates; Lake Wales Charter Schools; Queralyze; The Latt Maxcy Corporation
Larry Williams, Gunster Yoakley Stewart: Frontier Communications Corporation
Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: A discussion with political analyst Dr. Lawrence Miller on “Who owns to GOP? The RNC or Donald Trump?”
Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: Republican Senate candidate U.S. Rep. David Jolly.
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: WTSP 10 News Investigative reporter Noah Pransky; Hillsborough Young Republicans Secretary Holly Holobyn; Democratic political consultant Franco Ripple; and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times.
On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: Rep. Janet Adkins on the recent move to test backlogged rape kits, Democratic CD-5 candidate J.L. Holloway, and Prof. Michael Binder of University of North Florida on Tuesday’s presidential primaries.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Presidential Primary recap show, with speeches from Tuesday night and analysis from Michelle Ertel and Jeremiah Jaspon. PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim regarding the 9/11 attacks and the families of the terrorists. Plus a new installment of “Common Ground” with Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Chris Ingram.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Gary Yordon, Steve Vancore, and Sean Pittman.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Angela Corey, State Attorney for the 4th Judicial Circuit and Asst. State Attorney Rich Mantei, plus Josh Newman of Newman Strategies and Solutions and Chris Hand, co-author of “America: The Owner’s Manual.”
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HULK HOGAN TRIAL MAY BE NEAR END, WITH CLOSING ARGUMENTS FRIDAY via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press – Jurors will hear closing arguments in ex-pro wrestler Hulk Hogan‘s lawsuit against Gawker Media over a sex video … Also, a Florida court ruled in favor of a group of media companies that wanted documents unsealed in the case. The 2nd District Court of Appeals in Lakeland ruled that sealed documents in the case are public records and should be available to the public and the press. Earlier, lawyers for Gawker showed Hogan a promo video of him wearing T-back underwear and parodying the Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” video. They also played a video of a Hulk Hogan deposition in which Hogan discussed his wrestling persona, his true identity, branding and celebrity. They also asked him if he tried to “shape” any of the media interviews he did in the days after the sex video was posted, by asking media outlets to not discuss the video. “I don’t recall,” Hogan said.
SEAWORLD TO STOP BREEDING ORCAS, MAKING THEM PERFORM TRICKS via Jennifer Kay and Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – Finally bowing to years of public pressure, SeaWorld … will immediately stop breeding killer whales, and soon stop making them perform theatrical tricks. SeaWorld’s 29 orcas will remain on display at the company’s theme parks, but in “new, inspiring natural orca encounters,” the company said. Attendance at SeaWorld’s parks dropped after the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” a highly critical documentary. SeaWorld reported a fourth-quarter loss of $11 million in February. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said he approached the company’s killer whale quandary with a “fresh perspective” since taking the helm less than a year ago, and he realized, “society is shifting here.”
TAMPA ENTERS RUNNING TO HOST ADDITIONAL SUPER BOWL via Frances McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – Tampa will be competing to host the Super Bowl in 2021 as well as 2019 and 2020. “It’s my understanding the dates have also been expanded to include a third Super Bowl; we’re talking 2019, 2020 and 2021,” Dennis Rogero, chief of staff for Mayor Bob Buckhorn, told the Tampa City Council … Tampa is competing with Atlanta, New Orleans, Miami and Los Angeles. “There is a host committee being formed,” Rogero said. Outside the council chamber he said that Tampa is “very, very well positioned to not only be awarded it but to handle it very well.” The final bid is due in April followed by a presentation and vote to take place in May.
NEW X-MEN: APOCALYPSE TRAILER FROLICS THROUGH THE END OF DAYS via Brian Raferty of Wired – The sequel to 2014’s time-traveling X-Men: Days of Future Past is set in 1983, and focuses on an ancient mutant named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who forcefully reawakens after thousands of years, hoping to once again lead his super-powered people. The only thing that can stop Apocalypse is, of course, Xavier’s team of outcast mutants, who’ll need to fight to secure their future (and, it should be noted, the future of mankind). They’re led here by both the good professor and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and staffed by such fresh-faced members as Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). “You’re not students anymore,” Mystique tells the youngin’s in her why-we-fight speech. “You’re X-Men.” But will even they be able to stop an apoplectic Apocalypse from sending Earth back to the bad old days? We’ll find out when X-Men: Apocalypse opens May 27.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY belatedly to Kelsey Frouge, St. Petersburg City Councilman Steve Kornell, Florida TaxWatch’s Rob Weissert, Sean Shaw. Celebrating today is the FEA’s Andy Ford and Ron Matus.