Let the 2014 gubernatorial campaign begin. Rick Scott is launching his first TV ad, with a $2.2-million statewide buy by his political committee Let's Get to Work. It's a positive, biographical spot echoing some of the strongest parts of the the governor's state of the state speech. The overriding message: I'm Rick Scott, and I'm not a total jerk who can't relate to any struggling Floridians.
Gov. Rick Scott's campaign said Tuesday it's spending $2.2 million on a statewide TV ad buy with a new spot, called "Families," that highlights key elements of Scott's biography. The spot shows Scott from side angles discussing his father's car being repossessed and the work ethic he acquired from his mother, and ends with him saying: "I want people to have the same shot I had."Full Story
At a glance, it’s clear Democrat Charlie Crist’s political committee outraised Gov. Rick Scott’s last month by $827,350 to $184,257.
But the political committees don’t tell the whole story. The candidates’ campaign committees and the parties are a major factor.
And Scott is still winning that race. Here are the campaign-account breakdowns that were just posted:
Crist raised: $291,877.38
Scott raised: $585,318.00
Scott COH: $1,198,879.08
Crist cash on hand: $1,424,200.34
And then there’s the matter of the parties. A top Republican Party of Florida source tells us Scott raised $975,000 for the party last month. That’s all gravy. The Florida Democratic Party, which has no majority in the Legislature and no statewide elected seats based in Tallahassee, can’t come close to that right now.
Why Scott’s increased focus on raising money for the party and the campaign vs. the political committee? Because it saves money.
The candidate’s committee and the party get the lowest ad and mail rates. That can save an elections effort millions, perhaps as much as half. And Scott wants to spend $100 million. Crist wants $50 million. …Full Story
The cover of Gov. Rick Scott's upcoming book, "Chasing Sunshine: Remarkable People Who Found the American Dream in Florida."
Gov. Rick Scott, long rumored to be writing a book, recently told reporters it won't be available until at least November.
"Not until after the election," Scott said a few days ago.
Apparently the people at Amazon.com have other ideas. The website on Tuesday began taking advance orders for a book it says will be available by April 15. The book's title is Chasing Sunshine: Remarkable People Who Found the American Dream in Florida, published by Greenleaf Book Group Press.
Scott's campaign manager, Melissa Sellers, said: "There's basically no book going anywhere until after the election. There are a lot of other things going on."
The blurb on Amazon.com says the people who are profiled in the book include "George Burgess, the world's foremost shark expert; Gladys Rubio, hurricane chaser; Tramar Dillard, best known by his rap persona, Flo Rida; and Mary Ann Carroll, one of the original Florida Highwaymen artists." …Full Story
State lawmakers have a plan to keep kids safe at school: Allow teachers to pack heat.
The controversial proposal won the support of a Senate panel on Monday despite strong opposition from parent groups, school boards and the statewide teachers union.
It is one of several high-profile gun bills gaining traction in the Florida Legislature this year — and a sign that the National Rifle Association is once again flexing its muscle in Tallahassee.
Other NRA priorities: extend Stand Your Ground protection to people who fire a warning shot; let tax collectors accept applications for concealed-weapons permits; and protect a child’s right to chew pastries into the shape of pretend pistols.
Read more here.Full Story
The Florida House and Senate will each meet to take up a short list of their top priority legislation and the Florida Press Corps caps off the day with an entertaining salute to legislating. Here are five things to watch today:
Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano points out in his latest column why Tuesday's special election in Congressional District 13 is so important for Pinellas voters. An excerpt:
The special election featuring David Jolly and Alex Sink is expected to be close, and by itself that is a drastic change from what voters around here are accustomed to seeing.
It's safe to say the last time this race was competitive there wasn't as much emphasis on televised debates, and there weren't as many commercials. Mostly because half the homes in America had not yet bought a television.
Not since William Cramer narrowly beat incumbent Courtney Campbell in 1954 has this election been decided by less than 12 points.
Over the next 29 elections, Democrats were lucky to log even 40 percent of the vote. And that includes eight times when they didn't bother to put a candidate on the ballot.
In other words, this could be a defining moment.Full Story
If you haven't noticed, PolitiFact Florida has been in overdrive fact-checking Pinellas' Congressional District 13 special election.
The race to fill the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young's open House seat has become a national campaign, thanks to outside money from both parties and special interest groups. Get ready for Election Day on Tuesday with this wrapup of the biggest claims concerning the candidates and analyis of how accurately issues have been presented in the special election.
Follow PolitiFact Florida on Twitter and Facebook for more.Full Story
Sorry, Lucas Overby. But Sen. Rand Paul, a hero to many libertarians, made this robo call for David Jolly, adding his voice to big-name Republicans who have gotten involved in the race. Full Story
The streak continues.
Attorney General Pam Bondi raised more money in February than her three challengers -- $92,548 from her two committees and $184,000 with her own campaign for a total of $276,548.
That’s slightly less than the $325,293 Bondi raised in January and her contributions still show a heavy reliance on party money. About 25 percent of her take in February, about $69,000, came via the Republican Party of Florida.
But she’s built a warchest of about $2.3 million that her challengers will need to hustle just to approach.
For Democrats, it’s between former secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families, George Sheldon and Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale.
Sheldon raised more, about $71,000 compared to Thurston’s $56,024 for February (although Thurston’s campaign put out a release Monday trumpeting the $67,000 that Thurston had raised from February to the “start of the legislative session” -- meaning Thurston included three days in March).
Sheldon’s February total nearly doubled what he had raised since announcing his run late last year. Through February, Sheldon has a total of $150,255. Thurston trails at $94,518. …Full Story
By Ivan Penn
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy filed a petition Monday to block a St. Lucie nuclear reactor from returning to service until the public vets unusual wear inside the plant's steam generators.
In a complaint to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Southern Alliance accused the NRC of allowing unit two of the St. Lucie nuclear complex to operate outside of its license.
The Southern Alliance argued that plant owner Florida Power & Light omitted components without formal NRC approval, contributing to premature steam generator tube wear.
"We are troubled that the NRC is allowing FPL to operate unit two essentially in an experimental state due to the significant modifications that have occurred with the steam generator replacements," said Stephen Smith, Southern Alliance's executive director.
Michael Waldron, an FPL spokesman, dismissed the group's claims as just part of an "antinuclear" agenda.
"This petition is not about the safety of St. Lucie," he said. "It's a transparent attempt by an out-of-state, antinuclear group to advance a political agenda."Full Story
Sen. Bill Nelson this evening joined other Democrats in what will be an all-night discussion on the Senate floor about climate change. "You know what is threatened the most in the continental United States? The Miami area," Nelson said, adding he will take members of the Commerce Committee to the area for a field hearing in April. "Florida is ground zero for sea level rise," Nelson said. "We have a compelling story to tell."
Democrats calling themselves the Climate Caucus plan to take turns talking about climate change until Tuesday morning. The issue has struggled for traction with many Republicans either dismissing scientific evidence of global warming or playing down the ramifications. …Full Story
Arcades like Dave & Busters and Chuck E Cheese will no longer be in violation of state law when they operate their coinless games under a bill that won unanimous support Wednesday in the Senate Gaming Committee.
The bill, PCB 668 by Sen. Kelli Stargel, is intended to fix a law passed by legislators last year that outlawed Internet Cafes but snagged family amusement centers in the process. The groups organized, pleaded with lawmakers to revise the law and urged local police not to enforce it against them. Legislators returned with bills to revise the ban.
Now, skeptics say, the remedy could cause another round of troubles for the state’s porous gambling laws.
Marc Dunbar, a gaming law expert and lobbyist for the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, told the Senate committee that the bill could allow clever operators to use holes in the law to develop technology that could bring a new round of electronic games to Florida’s strip malls, and police would be powerless to stop them.
If this bill passes in its current form, without some state regulator to enforce it, he said that illegal operators will be popping up across the state and “law enforcement are essentially playing a game of whack-a-mole.”
The bill revises the definition of an amusement game and allows them to be placed in arcades, truck stops, bowling centers, hotels and restaurants. It removes the requirement that operators have 50-games in their centers and it now allows players to use different types of currency — tokens, cards or coupons — instead of just coins to operate the games. It raises the total prize per game from 75 cents to $5.25, and allows for prizes valued at up to $50.
“Our target was not family arcades,’’ said Stargel, R-Lakeland. The bill provides clarification “that these amusement centers need to continue to provide entertainment for children and adults.”Full Story
A bill that takes aim at Pinellas County’s reliance on absentee mail voting and introduced online registration is moving ahead in the Florida Senate.
SPB 7068 wasn’t voted on Monday, but Sen. Jack Latvala, who chairs the ethics and elections committee made clear that when it comes back in two weeks before his committee, it’ll be a top priority.
“This is a shot that I’m firing to have more early voting locations allowed in Pinellas County,” said Latvala, R-Clearwater.
He filed the bill after a confrontation in December between Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark and Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who ordered an end to absentee dropoff sites because no law allows it. For the past five years, Clark has stressed absentee voting while other counties have emphasized early voting locations.
Latvala said he wants Clark to at least provide early voting at the locations where she has absentee dropoff sites. …Full Story
This is an excerpt from today's press briefing at the White House. Press Secretary Jay Carney is answering the questions.
Q One more domestic politics question quickly. What has the President done for Alex Sink?
MR. CARNEY: Well, the President supports Democratic candidates across the country. The President, as you know, has been engaged in an effort and will continue to be engaged in an effort to support the Democratic National Committee, the DS -- the senatorial committee and the congressional committee. So I’m not sure I understand the question.
Q Just specifically, the election is tomorrow, so I’m just curious what in particular the President has been doing as an asset to his campaign. …Full Story