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May 12, 2015

Miami International Boat Show to host reassuring webinar for exhibitors

via @NewsbySmiley

With their move to the Miami Marine Stadium grounds and basin sparking lawsuits and political tensions, the Miami International Boat Show's parent company wants to reassure their exhibitors that everything is going smoothly.

According to a Monday report by Trade Only Today, a daily publication for marine industry professionals, the National Marine Manufacturers Association is hosting an invite-only webinar for exhibitors on May 20. The webinar was announced in a letter by NMMA president Thom Dammrich, who wants to update participants on the progress of the move from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Marine Stadium in February, and address allegations raised in a lawsuit by the Village of Key Biscayne against the association.

Trade Only Today reported that it obtained the letter, in which Dammrich wrote that he wants to correct "misinformation and misinterpretations that are being broadcast as a result of the high-profile and political nature of our move to Miami Marine Stadium Park.”

Village officials have accused the Boat Show operators of breaking Florida's government in the sunshine law -- a criminal violation -- and have also sued the city to stop the project. They worry that the event will cause gridlock on the one road in and out of the island.

“You should know that NMMA is responding to the claims in the lawsuit, which we believe are completely unfounded,” Dammrich wrote in the letter obtained by Trade Only Today. "I've made statements in the press recently that we are confident that the show you trust us to produce will move forward as planned and that the Miami International Boat Show remains committed to being a good neighbor to Key Biscayne. I’ve made these statements because they are true.”

Miami administrators say they're moving forward with construction to prepare the stadium grounds for the boat show. Meanwhile, they expect to finally sign a license agreement with the association tomorrow.

Gov. Rick Scott gets promise of a hearing on what he calls 'Sopranos'-like coercion from Obama administration

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott continued his offensive against Medicaid expansion during a visit to Washington D.C. Tuesday, pressing members of the state delegation to make phone calls and write letters, and gaining assurance from a powerful committee chairman to hold a hearing on what Scott said was a "Sopranos"-like coercion from the federal government.

The governor echoed a theme from April, when he first compared the Obama administration's push to the TV show on organized crime.

Scott said Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, would hold a hearing his summer "to review this coercion."

Scott met with more than a dozen Florida Republicans and urged them to join the fight.

"They can continue to highlight what the federal government is doing, what the Obama administration is doing by, one, walking away from an existing program for poor families and, two, using coercion tactics -- this is the Sopranos," he said.

Scott dismissed a question about using Florida's budget surplus to avoid a case-line "continuation" budget. He said, however, that the spending plan would account for money that must be allocated under the voter-approved Amendment 1 for environmental conservation.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

In title for most conservative, Marco Rubio just misses top spot


As they race for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the senators in the running are also in a battle for the title of most-conservative.

Ted Cruz of Texas wins. But not by much.

The new legislative ratings by the American Conservative Union, a leading grassroots conservative organization, gave three senators perfect 100 scores: Cruz, Mike Lee of Utah and the just-retired Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Another five senators were bunched together with ratings of 96. Included were Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Cruz, Rubio and Paul are all declared candidates for president and will compete in a Republican primary season where conservative credentials will be a major selling point.

Another Republican senator who has all but declared a run, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, had a far-more moderate score of 74.

Florida’s other senator, Bill Nelson of Orlando, was one of 16 Democrats to score a zero in the conservative group’s rating system.

The group’s ratings were based on an analysis of votes cast or positions taken on 25 key issues. The group’s ratings are designed to test the issues and votes that “serve as a dividing line to help separate those members of the U.S. House and Senate who protect liberty as conservatives and those who are truly liberal.”

Rubio only went afoul of the group’s positions once: his vote against an amendment that would have phased in a reduction in government subsidies for flood insurance.

RPOF announces 2016 finance operation

The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday announced its fundraising team for the 2016 election in the latest part of a shakeup since Chairman Blaise Ingoglia took over the party earlier this year.

Heather Manso will be finance director. She has fundraised for individual legislative candidates in Florida and was on staff for Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, when she was majority leader.

* Political Capital, a firm founded by Gretchen Picotte, will take the lead on fundraising for RPOF. She was the finance director for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign in Florida. The firm has run finance operations for federal and state races.

Rick Porter worked on Mel Martinez’s 2004 U.S. Senate election team as a field director and has worked on statewide and federal campaigns. 

Fundraising for Miami Commission races tops $1 million

via @NewsbySmiley

Candidates running to win election in November to the Miami City Commission have spent months -- in one case years -- raising money to fund their campaigns. Last month, they collectively passed the $1 million mark, according to campaign treasurer's reports due Tuesday.

The reports, filed by 15 candidates running for three seats, show incumbent Commission Chairman Wifredo "Willy" Gort topped $100,000 last month. District 4 Commissioner Francis Suarez, who only recently filed to run for reelection, has $80,000 in his official campaign fund.

But most the money is coming into the city's District 2 commission field, which has raised more than a half-million dollars. Teresa Sarnoff, wife of District 2 incumbent Marc Sarnoff, raised $56,000 in April, bringing her war chest to $390,000. Her best-funded rival, Grace Solares, brought in $17,000, bringing her total to $118,000.

None of the other seven candidates running for Commissioner Sarnoff's seat has more than $40,000 in their campaign funds. And in soft money, Sarnoff is sitting on a quarter million dollars in his electioneering committee, Truth is the Daughter of Time. Suarez also has more than $300,000 saved up from his aborted run for mayor in 2013.

We're rifling through the reports to see who gave to candidates last month and will update this post if there's any interesting developments.

Jeb Bush leases Miami office for likely presidential campaign

@PatriciaMazzei @NickNehamas


There’s no “Jeb Bush for President” sign — at least, not yet — outside the sturdy, six-story office building on West Flagler Street. But inside, the former Florida governor’s political team has begun to organize his likely 2016 Republican presidential bid.

Bush’s political action committee, Right to Rise, recently leased space on two floors of the Flagler Corporate Center at 9250 W. Flagler St. in West Miami-Dade County. For now, they remain a campaign headquarters in need of a campaign, since Bush has yet to formalize his candidacy.

“Welcome,” reads a placard with Right to Rise’s logo on it inside the building’s lobby, past a security desk that asks visitors to sign in and provide identification before they walk in. Two more Right to Rise signs point to the PAC’s offices on the fifth and sixth floors.

As an unofficial candidate, Bush has been raising big money at events hosted by his PAC and super PAC, both named Right to Rise. Once he launches his campaign, Bush will be limited in his ability to coordinate with the deep-pocketed super PAC, which is nevertheless expected to take an unprecedented role in the race, though it won’t be physically housed with Bush’s operation.

Bush’s communications staff and some of his finance team have already moved into the newly leased Miami headquarters. Team Jeb has only leased a small portion of the building. But it seems ready to house a large operation: It has ample parking and an atrium cafeteria. A large American flag hangs over the fifth-floor balcony.

More here.

This post has been updated.


Joan Geller, mom of Steve and Joe Geller, dies

Joan Geller, the mother of former state Sen. Steve Geller and state Rep. Joe Geller, died this morning in hospice in Sunrise.

“She was never involved in politics herself but she was certainly around it a lot,” Steve Geller said. “She campaigned for me, she campaigned for my brother.”

Geller, 84, was born in New York City and moved to Florida in 1965. She first lived in Miami and then moved to Hollywood and later Sunrise. After her husband Marvin died, she later was the longtime girlfriend of Amadeo "Trinchi" Trinchitella, a well-known Deerfield Beach City Commissioner and condo leader who was courted by presidential contenders visiting South Florida.

The funeral for Geller will be held at noon Thursday at Beth David Memorial Gardens, 3201 NW 72 Ave in Hollywood.

Geller had four children: in addition to Steve and Joe she had a son Bill and daughter Hillary Geller Garbarino.

Study: Most states spent $250,000 for online voter registration

A nationwide study released to the Herald/Times Tuesday shows that most states that have implemented online voter registration did so at a cost of $300,000 or less. The report by Pew Charitable Trusts -- which will be released to the public Wednesday -- said the average statewide cost was $249,000.

California, which has a population nearly twice the size of Florida's, spent the most: $1.8 million. That's how much money the Florida Legislature set aside, not for full implementation, but for Gov. Rick Scott's administration to begin implementation over a two-and-a-half year period. Six states in the Pew study implemented online registration for less than $100,000 each.

The Florida legislation (SB 228, by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth) is on Scott's desk. He has not expressed a position on it and he has until May 22 to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. All 67 Florida county election supervisors support online registration, but they say they have had no response to three requests to meet with the governor. The idea won overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature this spring.

The Pew study found that online voter registration is cheaper and more efficient than paper and that it results in more accurate voter files. The study noted that 20 states have implemented online voter registration since Arizona became the pacesetter in 2002. The latest state to begin online registration was New Mexico last month.

Several states now allow people to register or update their registrations using a mobile device. California offers online registration services in 10 languages, including Hindi, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.

The study makes this conclusion: "Online voter registration is becoming an ever more efficient, convenient, and popular tool for voters and election officials as states develop increasingly effective and inclusive processes. But states are still confronting some shortcomings and challenges as they upgrade and expand their systems."

Pew said a high level of "data integration" is needed between agencies managing voter data (the agencies in Florida are highway safety and the Department of State) and that bureaucratic hurdles can exist in states where local election officials have greater autonomy (which describes the system in Florida).

Who Rick Scott is talking to in Washington, D.C.

As part of a Washington, D.C., whirlwind tour — his second in as many weeks — Gov. Rick Scott is making stops with more than a dozen members of Congress.

Last time he visited the nation's capitol, Scott was there to negotiate with federal regulators on the health care funding stalemate in Florida. So far, no similar meetings have been announced for this trip. Yesterday, he had interviews with Fox News and Politico and met with Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

On the agenda for today are 14 additional Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation:
* Rep. Jeff Miller
* Rep. Tom Rooney
* Rep. Ron DeSantis
* Rep. Ted Yoho
* Rep. Curt Clawson
* Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
* Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
* Rep. Carlos Curbelo
* Rep. David Jolly
* Rep. Dennis Ross
* Rep. Rich Nugent
* Rep. Bill Posey
* Rep. Vern Buchanan
* Rep. John Mica

Plus other House and Senate leaders:
* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
* Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee

Carlos Gimenez crosses $1 million mark in Miami-Dade mayoral race


After four months,  Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has raised more than $1 million for his reelection fight against announced challenger Raquel Regalado and whoever else may be eyeing his County Hall seat.

The incumbent, in office since 2011, raised $124,600 in April for the political committee supporting his reelection, Miami-Dade Residents First, according to a report filed this week. That brings the committee's tally to $1,004,552 since it launched mid-January.

The total gives him a significant advantage over Regalado, a two-term school board member daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. She has raised $175,000 this year.

But their April hauls aren't too far off. Regalado, who announced her mayoral run in March after strong hints throughout 2015, took in $110,000 in April, according to the latest reports.  

Regalado is using a state committee, Serving Miamians, that has funded past campaigns for her and her father. We're only using donations received in 2015 for the Serving Miamians tally. She also has an official campaign committee, but Gimenez does not.

The campaign committee gives Regalado the flexibility to raise money directly from voters, while political committees target more deep-pocketed donors. Committees cannot directly advocate for the election of a candidate. 

Xavier Suarez, the county commissioner who is publicly flirting with a mayoral run, has raised $276,700 for his political committee, Imagine Miami, since he last stood for reelection in 2012. That includes about $156,000 from last month. 

We'll update this post later as we crunch more numbers.