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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush Super PAC outlines donors behind $103 million haul

The Right to Rise Super PAC supporting Jeb Bush has filed its report with the FEC this morning, showing the source of the eye-popping $103 million it has raised since January.

Read it here as we comb through for details. If you see something interesting, please note it in comments.

Notable donors:

Former President George H.W. Bush gave $125,000

Former President Geroge W. Bush gave $95,000

Brent Sembler, a St. Petersburg developer, gave $29,000

Mel Sembler gave $100,000

FSU President John Thrasher gave $10,000

State Rep. Dennis Baxley gave $1,000

State Sen. Jeff Brandes gave $1,000

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, now lobbyist for Associated Industries of Florida, gave $5,000

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Bill Nelson vows to use 'all available procedural options' to block attempt on Gulf oil drilling

Sen. Bill Nelson sent a letter Thursday to Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid saying he would use “all available procedural options” to block a measure to repeal the ban on offshore drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The move comes after the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved, by a 12-10 vote, legislation to lift the moratorium. “The GOP-backed measure would allow oil and gas rigs to operate as close as 50 miles to much of Florida’s Gulf Coast – which would undo protection of the state’s Gulf Coast dating back some four decades,” Nelson’s office said.

The current ban extends 125-235 miles off the coast and is in effect until 2022.

“If any measure to repeal the current moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico comes before the full Senate for a vote, I will use all available procedural options to block it,” Nelson wrote to McConnell and Reid.

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'Inclusive' Jeb Bush? Democratic group says no way

A "pre-buttal" memo in from the liberal American Bridge:

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Eddie Vale, Vice President, American Bridge 21st Century

RE: "Inclusive?" Jeb's Record Of Failing African Americans

DATE: July 31st, 2015

Jeb Bush is speaking today at the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale, but he gave Americans a preview of his thoughts on African Americans last week when he dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as "a slogan." With twinges of the same Bush who said he'd do "probably nothing" for African Americans during his first run for governor, his record is chock full of indifference toward black Floridians. He repeatedly failed to respond to issues caused by his own administration's negligence. Bush's resume reads like the out-of-touch Republican he is: End affirmative action, purge voter rolls, disenfranchise voters, and sign a Stand Your Ground law.

With Bush's stump speech promise to campaign everywhere, including African American churches, here's a look at Bush's record that he'll have to defend: …

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Hillary Clinton in Miami: 'The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all'

Excerpts from Hillary Clinton's speech today in Miami:

"We have arrived at a decisive moment. The Cuban people have waited long enough for progress to come. Even many Republicans on Capitol Hill are starting to recognize the urgency of moving forward. It’s time for their leaders to either get on board or get out of the way.

"The Cuba embargo needs to go, once and for all. We should replace it with a smarter approach that empowers the Cuban private sector, Cuban civil society, and the Cuban-American community to spur progress and keep pressure on the regime.

"Today I am calling on Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell to step up and answer the pleas of the Cuban people. By large majorities, they want a closer relationship with America. They want to buy our goods, read our books, surf our web, and learn from our people. They want to bring their country into the 21st century. That is the road toward democracy and dignity. We should walk it together."

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Scott's chief elections official cites need to 'over-communicate'

Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, is taking steps to improve his shaky relationships with county election supervisors.

In the wake of a state audit that faulted his agency's oversight of Florida's critical voter registration system, followed by another round of complaints by supervisors that he's a poor communicator, Detzner held a conference call with supervisors Thursday and sent them a memo urging them to start planning for the 2016 presidential election.

"I recognize the need to over-communicate our planning at the Department," Detzner said, according to a script of his remarks obtained by the Times/Herald. Beginning in August, he told supervisors, will hold monthly conference calls with them, followed up by site visits to counties beginning in October.

"I applaud the fact that he recognizes that," said Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley, president of the state association of supervisors.  "That's a positive step." …

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Senate Democratic leader wants Bush apology at Urban League

In anticipation of Jeb Bush's speech to a National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale Friday, Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, sent the former governor a letter and demanded that he acknowledge his "mistakes" in dealing with black Floridians. Here's the text of Joyner's letter:

"If you are serious about reaching out to the African-American community, then you should first address those aspects of your record that are most troubling to our community. Most prominent is your record on voting disenfranchisement of minority communities.

"As governor, you oversaw a purge of Florida’s voter rolls that denied thousands of African-Americans the ability to vote. You also continued Florida’s horrible record of denying former felons any meaningful access to restoration of their civil rights. …

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Legislature unlikely to address gambling during August special session

It is unlikely that the Florida Legislature will add any new discussion of extending a statewide gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida when lawmakers meets in a special session in August to deal with Congressional redistricting, a key Senate leader said Thursday.

“It is very unlikely that we would expand the call to involve anything else, especially the compact,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton said.

Galvano, who led the original gambling compact negotiations in 2010 when he was in the House, said he’s going to advocate that the redistricting issue is simply too important and deserves the Legislature’s undivided attention.

On Friday, the state’s 5-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe that allows them to run blackjack and other table games at five of its casinos expires. In return for allowing the games, the state gets $1 billion, under the compact.

Under terms of the expiring compact, the Tribe would have to discontinue the lucrative card games within 90 days unless the Legislature agrees to extend the compact. In the spring, the Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have extended the compact for an additional year.  …

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Jeb Bush to National Urban League: 'There are unjust barriers to opportunity and upward mobility in this country'

Jeb Bush in his address Friday to the National Urban League will talk about a “listening and learning” phase following his 1994 campaign in which he made comments that were offensive to African-Americans, play up charter schools, criticize a "losing" war on poverty and discuss his decision as governor to take down the Confederate flag.

“I know that there are unjust barriers to opportunity and upward mobility in this country. Some we can see, others are unseen but just as real,” reads Bush’s speech, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. “So many lives can come to nothing, or come to grief, when we ignore problems, or fail to meet our own responsibilities. And so many people could do so much better in life if we could come together and get even a few big things right in government. I acted on that belief as governor of Florida. It’s a record I’ll gladly compare with that of anyone else in the field. …

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Gov. Rick Scott touts Forbes naming six Florida cities as top job growers

Gov. Rick Scott never misses an opportunity to tout Florida's economy. 

In a Thursday press release, Scott celebrated a Forbes article that named six Florida cities — Cape Coral, Orlando, Ocala, Port St. Lucie, North Port and Naples — to its top 10 "best cities for future job growth."

“Over the past four years, we have worked hard to make it easier for businesses to succeed and create jobs by reducing regulations and cutting taxes - including $400 million in tax cuts just this year," Scott said. "We will keep working to make Florida the top state for jobs and we look forward to welcoming more businesses to our state.”

The Forbes article cited Naples' booming retirement population and low crime rate in naming it the country's top potential job growth city. Orlando, another major Florida city that ranked high, was lauded for its flourishing tourism industry.

Here's Scott's full press release:

Today, Governor Rick Scott made the following statement regarding Forbes Magazine including six Florida cities in their Top Ten Best Cities for Job Growth in 2015. Naples tops the list at number one with Cape Coral, Orlando, Ocala, Port St. Lucie, and North Port ranking in the top 10. …

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Poll: 68 percent of Floridians favor clean energy goal

An environmental advocacy group touted new poll numbers Thursday that show the vast majority of Floridians favor making clean energy a priority.

A survey conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by NextGen Climate showed that 68 percent of likely Florida voters have either a favorable or a very favorable view of committing to a national goal of 50 percent clean energy by 2030. Just 5 percent of state voters held an unfavorable view.

The Florida numbers were in line with national numbers. The poll was conducted by interviewing 2002 likely voters in swing states New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and the Sunshine State.

70 percent of total voters were favorable, compared with just 7 percent unfavorable.

This information, if reflected by the electorate, could have serious political implications.

The poll outlined a scenario in which only one of the two general election presidential candidates were to set the 2030 clean energy goal. For the purposes of the exercise, the two hypothetical candidates were Republican Jeb Bush and Democrat Hillary Clinton. …

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Jeb Bush’s ‘inclusive’ message to face tough test before African Americans

Jeb Bush casts himself as an evangelist for a Republican Party that welcomes new faces of all ages and colors. In campaign stop after campaign stop, he spreads his arms wide: “We have to campaign like this,” he says — not with an angry posture he sometimes mimics by frowning, wagging his index finger and grunting, “Grrr.”

That’s not much of a hard sell for Bush to make to Hispanics. The former Florida governor is an adopted Miamian who speaks Spanish with his Mexican-born wife.

But making the same case to African Americans, another overwhelmingly Democratic bloc, is a different story. But Bush will try anyway when he speaks Friday in Fort Lauderdale to the annual conference of the National Urban League, a civil-rights group

Bush got a preview of the kind of skeptical crowd he might face at a meet-and-greet with pastors in Orlando on Monday. A black minister, David Outing, grabbed the microphone and asked Bush what he would do as president to represent, and not just pander to, the black community.

“I would do what I did as governor,” Bush responded. “My administration was as inclusive as possible.”

More here.

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Jeff Miller will not run for U.S. Senate, focus on VA instead

Rep. Jeff Miller will not run for U.S. Senate, saying he will focus on fixing the "toxic culture" at the VA.

The North Florida Republican had been strongly considering entering the race for Marco Rubio's seat and said he would announce a decision after August.

But today he warned of a presidential veto of his Accountability Act.

"It became clear to me that this Administration is not committed to reforming the VA," Miller said in a statement. "My personal commitment to the veterans of this country is greater than my desire to seek higher office.

"I have made the determination that I can best serve veterans as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the member from the First District of Florida. I have decided to forgo my candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and instead continue my efforts to reform the toxic culture within the VA.

"Vicki and I have prayed about this for weeks, and we feel that we have come to the best decision.  We appreciate the outpouring of support from our family, friends, and supporters from all across the great State of Florida and throughout the Nation.”

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Ted Cruz, Rick Perry launch attacks on Jeb Bush

Ted Cruz today attacked Jeb Bush as soft on Iran, the second day in a row that a Republican rival has taken a shot at Bush.

Appearing on a radio show the Texan said the billions of dollars Iran would get would lead to deaths and anyone who doesn't speak up bears responsibility. "One of the reasons Republicans keep getting clobbered is we have leaders like Mitt Romney and like Jeb Bush who are afraid to say that," Cruz said on the Chad Hasty show.

Bush opposes the Iran deal but hasn't employed the rhetoric of some other Republicans, including Marco Rubio, and said a new president couldn't rip up a deal on the first day of being sworn in.

Yesterday, Rick Perry leveled his own attack on Bush, nothing Florida's growth while Bush was governor was built on a housing boom. "Texas didn’t have a housing crash like the ones they faced in Florida and Nevada," Perry said in a speech. "One analyst recently estimated that more than a third of Florida’s job growth, under Jeb Bush’s administration, was due to the housing bubble."

Liek Cruz, Perry is struggling to emerge from a large pack of GOP contenders.

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Walton County goes shopping on eBay for new Confederate flag

Walton County's temporary Confederate flag until the "stars and bars" version arrives from eBay.

Photo courtesy Walton County

Walton County's temporary Confederate flag until the "stars and bars" version arrives from eBay.

It has been two days since Walton County voted to replace its Southern Cross Confederate flag with an earlier "stars and bars" version. But in the latest twist to this controversy, a different flag is fluttering outside the North Florida courthouse: a rebel flag with seven stars, not the 13-star version commissioners approved after three hours of acrimonious debate Tuesday.

As it turns out, Walton County had to go shopping for a stars and bars flag. The county found one, all right, on eBay -- for $19.95 plus tax.

A vendor was found in Los Angeles, and the flag is on order and should arrive in DeFuniak Springs in two to three weeks, Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla said.

"We waited 15 minutes on hold and they told us that because of high demand from South Carolina they were out of stock and did not know when they would be getting any in," Svehla said. …

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RNC adds three top staffers in Florida

The RNC is solidifying its presence in Florida, adding a staff director and two other top operatives to work on the 2016 elections.

Brian Barrett will serve as state director. Alex Garcia is deputy state director and director of Hispanic initiatives, and Ben Shankle is coming as data direction.

“The RNC is building the largest, earliest and most data focused field program in GOP history,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a release. “This new wave of staff will help us train our team, register voters, and meet one-on-one with activists, to build our infrastructure now in order to hand our eventual nominee a fully functional ground operation on day one.”

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingolia said: “The road to the White House goes through Florida, and our State Party is fighting for every vote across the state with a commitment to the ground game unparalleled in the history of Florida politics."

Bios from the RNC:Full Story