Sunshine State News Blogs

A new poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), which is affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Attorney General Pam Bondi in solid shape to win re-election in November.

The Florida Chamber is backing Bondi, who has a strong lead over former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, the Democratic nominee who served as deputy attorney general under then-Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Sheldon won the Democratic primary last month over Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale.

In the new poll, Bondi takes 48 percent while Sheldon garners 31 percent. Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer, the Libertarian nominee in the race, was not included in the poll.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, released a poll on Monday which shows Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana in the Sunshine State, is a jump ball with five weeks to go.

The poll of likely voters shows 59 percent support Amendment 2 while 35 percent oppose it. To pass in November, 60 percent of voters must support Amendment 2 for it to be included in the Florida Constitution.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.
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The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI), affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, released a poll on Monday which has Scott out front with 43 percent while Crist garners 39 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 4 percent while 5 percent back other candidates and 7 percent are undecided. The Florida Chamber is backing Scott for another term.

The poll shows both Scott and Crist are doing well with their bases. Scott is backed by 73 percent of Republicans while 72 percent of Democrats support Crist, who left the GOP in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats in December 2012. Voters outside the two major parties go Scott’s way 41 percent while Crist takes 34 percent. Wyllie draws the backing of 8 percent of voters outside the major parties and 3 percent of Republicans and 2 percent of Democrats.

“Florida voters are smart,” said Marian Johnson, a senior vice president of the FCPI, on Monday. “They continue recognizing Gov. Scott is doing what he said he would do. More than 640,000 private-sector jobs have been created since December 2010, our education initiatives are working, and Florida families and small businesses continue to see opportunities for growth. The fact that a majority of polls throughout the last six to eight weeks show voters continuing to prefer Rick Scott over other candidates is a sign that his numbers are solid.”

“I believe a major reason Charlie Crist is visibly losing support is because voters are beginning to realize that Rick Scott’s focus on jobs is working and that Florida continues to move in the right direction,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber.

The poll of 813 likely voters was taken from Sept. 18-21 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released a new TV ad on Monday painting former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee challenging Gov. Rick Scott in November, as a flip-flopper. The ad mocks Crist leaving the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation in 2010 before joining the Democrats in 2012. The ad also jabs Crist for changing his positions on President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law, abortion and the federal stimulus.

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“I worked with both Charlie Crist and Rick Scott,” said Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, on Monday. “With Charlie Crist, I never knew where he stood on the issues because he made flips that would make an Olympic gymnast dizzy. But I could always take Gov. Scott’s word to the bank, because he’s someone who does exactly what he says he will do. There’s no doubt Charlie Crist is a skilled debater – that happens when you have a lot of experience debating against yourself.”
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Over this past weekend, gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian nominee challenging Gov. Rick Scott this year, focused on education and came out swinging at Common Core.

“School districts in Florida spend on average $12,000 per student annually. Some Florida school districts have budgets that exceed $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion),” Wyllie noted on Saturday. “Is the problem really that we’re not spending enough money on public education or is it that we’re not spending that money properly? The solution is to give parents the option to choose what is best for their own children and to create an environment where affordable, free-market education options can flourish.

“I will fight to repeal Common Core, and I will reject or nullify any unconstitutional federal usurpation of our children’s education,” Wyllie added. “My team and I are working on a comprehensive education policy that will improve education quality, reduce cost, and offer you more choices when it comes to educating your children.”

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At an event in Washington, D.C., on Monday, former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., announced he was backing Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican nominee running against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November.  West, a favorite of the tea party movement who has left the door open to a comeback in 2016, made the endorsement through his Allen West Guardian Fund PAC.

“Carlos embodies the American dream and American exceptionalism,” said West, “We need voices like Carlos’ to bring the message of true conservatism to the Hispanic community, in order to articulate that it is through sound fiscal and economic policies, rather than government dependency, that long-lasting advancement and prosperity can be achieved.”

West’s PAC has endorsed 13 general election candidates so far for November but Curbelo is the first candidate from Florida to receive its support. On Monday, West promised he would back one more candidate in the middle of October.
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On Friday, Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, named former state Rep. DeeDee Davis to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council. While her background is mainly in education, including being named Florida Teacher of the Year in 1990 and to the Florida Educators Hall of Fame in 1998, the same year she was elected to the House as a Democrat, Davis helped found the Pensacola Bay International Film and Television Festival back in 2003. Davis had been married to former state Rep. Buzz Ritchie and ran for the Florida Senate in 2000 but came up short against Republican candidate Durell Peaden.

“The people of our state are very fortunate to have the benefit of DeeDee’s unique abilities and insights in this important role,” said Gaetz. “Her strong background and expertise in education, the arts and economic development make a perfect combination of credentials for guiding and promoting our state’s growing film and entertainment industries.”
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Former state Rep. Carl Domino, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., released a new TV ad over the past weekend which showcases his service in the Navy and his commitment to securing the border. The new ad looks to link Murphy to “Washington liberals” such as President Barack Obama and U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott said the state debt had been paid down by $400 million this year. During Scott’s time in office, the state debt went from $28.2 billion to its current $24.2 billion.

“During the last few years, Florida’s economy has experienced a tremendous turnaround,” Scott said on Friday. “By focusing on paying down debt, cutting taxes and eliminating burdensome regulation, we’ve created an environment where Florida’s private sector can grow. Since 2010, Florida has paid down $4 billion in state debt, Florida businesses have created over 640,000 jobs and we have cut taxes over 40 times. I am proud of the work we have accomplished, but we must remain focused on fiscal responsibility and job creation in the Sunshine State.”
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Gov. Rick Scott hit Jacksonville on Friday to announce GE Oil & Gas is building a new facility, creating 500 jobs and adding $50 million to the First Coast’s economy.

“The new GE Oil & Gas facility in Jacksonville will bring at least 500 jobs, giving even more Florida families the opportunity to live the American dream,” Scott said on Friday. “Last year we eliminated the sales tax on manufacturing equipment in order to build up manufacturing in our state, and now businesses like GE Oil & Gas can save money and be more competitive. Florida businesses have already created more than 640,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010, so let’s keep working to provide even more opportunities for Florida families.”

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown also praised the news on Friday.

“We’re excited that GE has selected Jacksonville as the site for a major advanced manufacturing facility,” said Brown. “We competed against a number of other communities for this great economic opportunity, and we won. It shows that Jacksonville is a city of opportunity and a great place to do business. My vision is to create jobs for Jacksonville, and we’re turning that vision into reality. I want to thank the City Council for its support, as well as our many partners who helped us secure these jobs for Jacksonville.”

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The Florida Council of 100 announced on Friday it was opposing Amendment 2, a proposal to increase medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State. To pass, Amendment 2 needs 60 percent on the ballot in November.

“The dangers of the use of Schedule I drugs such as marijuana are well-documented,” said Steve Halverson, the chairman of the Florida Council of 100, on Friday. “The provisions of Amendment 2 threaten Floridians’ quality of life because they are too nebulous, too loose and too lacking in common-sense protection from inappropriate and dangerous use.”

“The comprehensiveness of the recent Charlotte’s Web legislation demonstrates the extreme care and precision with which the issue of drug legalization must always be contemplated,” added Susan Pareigis, the president and CEO of the Florida Council of 100. “State policymakers are fully equipped to address such topics without cluttering the Constitution with dangerously ambiguous new programs.”
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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., said he was happy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is leaving the Obama administration.

“I am happy to hear that Attorney General Holder will be stepping down from his post,” Yoho said on Thursday. “While his appointment was historic, his tenure at the Department of Justice left much to be desired. Although Mr. Holder did not leave the way I saw fit, I am just happy he left. I hope the new attorney general will gain the trust of the American people, follow the Constitution, and restore faith in the Justice Department.”
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The Florida Council of 100 came out against Amendment 1 on Friday. Amendment 1 would mandate the Legislature send 33 percent of funds generated from real estate document taxes to be used for environmental conservation efforts for the next 20 years. Estimates shows these funds would range from $700 million to $1.3 billion.

“The Council of 100 recognizes that protecting our state’s natural resources is a key part of enhancing the quality of life and economic well-being of all Floridians,” said Steve Halverson, the chairman of the Florida Council of 100. “However, we should only amend our Constitution sparingly and thoughtfully and not use it to accomplish what can be addressed legislatively. The provisions of Amendment 1 can be dealt with legislatively.”

“Amendment 1 would tie the hands of our elected leaders, blocking them from optimally allocating tax dollars to citizens’ needs and preventing them from meeting those needs as the economy fluctuates,” said Susan Pareigis, the president and CEO of the Florida Council of 100. “Moreover, such appropriation by constitutional amendment would set a dangerous precedent by which other special interests would seek to further hamstring our policymakers’ ability to lead in a fiscally prudent manner.”

Amendment 1 needs 60 percent of the vote on the November ballot to pass.
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U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), got in trouble earlier this month when she compared Gov. Scott Walker’s, R-Wis., record on women’s issues to domestic violence -- but a video surfaced on Thursday showing she made the same comparison in regard to Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla.

"It's Charlie Crist, the Democrat, that had my back,” Wasserman Schultz said after former Gov. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., won the Democratic primary last month. “Rick Scott has given us the back of his hand."

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Republicans fired back and demanded Florida Democrats denounce Wasserman Schultz’s remarks.

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz's outrageous attacks on Gov. Rick Scott are wildly insulting,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Friday. “Her comments are especially heartless because Rick Scott’s mother was going through a divorce from an abusive husband when the governor was born. Gov. Scott never knew his natural father because his mom left him before he was born. To suggest that Rick Scott gives women the 'back of his hand' not only grossly mischaracterizes the governor, it treats actual domestic violence victims as pawns in a political game. Allison Tant and Charlie Crist should condemn Debbie Wasserman Schultz's remarks immediately."
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Despite U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s controversial record -- including his role in the Fast and Furious scandal and seizing journalists’ records -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., praised him after reports emerged that he was resigning due to personal reasons. Nelson praised Holder for his efforts on voting rights and for his help on the Dozier School investigation.

“I have found Attorney General Holder to be an outstanding public servant with whom I’ve had the privilege to work on a number of issues,” Nelson said on Thursday. “Among them, he has led the fight to protect the right to vote for all citizens and that includes his recent letter warning Florida’s governor against any future efforts there to suppress the vote. And he also has been very supportive of scientists’ efforts to unlock the secrets of potential abuse at a now-shuttered reform school in North Florida. The president will miss his counsel.”
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From his perch on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., said he was glad U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is leaving office.

"Eric Holder's tenure has been marked by the politicization of justice, disrespect for the rule of law and Constitution, and suppression of the truth,” DeSantis said on Thursday after news broke that Holder, after almost six years in office, was leaving. “He will be remembered for being held in contempt of Congress for stonewalling the Fast and Furious investigation and for conducting a sham investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. President Obama could hardly do worse when naming Holder's successor; my hope is that the president tries to do much better. Our people need to regain their lost confidence in the nation's commitment to the even-handed administration of justice."
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is turning his eyes to New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary. Rubio has left the door open to running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

On Thursday, Rubio -- through his Reclaim America PAC -- emailed supporters, urging them to back former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who is running against U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

“My good friend and former colleague Scott Brown is locked in a neck-and-neck race for the United States Senate in New Hampshire,” Rubio wrote. “A recent poll shows he just pulled ahead of incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. This is huge because it means we could actually take back the United States Senate this November.

“Winning this seat is vital for Republicans to flip the Senate and end President Obama’s free ride,” Rubio added. “The only thing worse than not winning majority control of the Senate would be knowing that we didn’t do everything we could to win. In New Hampshire we have a proven Republican leader working tirelessly, overcoming the odds, and beating a well-funded incumbent, but he cannot do it alone. He needs our help to finish strong and win.”

On Wednesday, reports emerged that Rubio will be heading to New Hampshire next month to help Republican candidate Marilinda Garcia as she looks to take down U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H.

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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie announced on Thursday he was bringing in attorney Luke Lirot as he looks to bring legal action to take part in the debates with Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. Lirot has considerable experience on this front, having represented Reform Party candidate Max Linn in his efforts to be included in the 2006 gubernatorial debates.

"For too long, the Republican-Democrat 'duopoly' has controlled the conversation, and they have used their power to silence the competition,” Wyllie said. “Their attempts to exclude me from the debates is just another example."

“After meeting with Mr. Lirot, I feel he not only understands the battle we are willing to take on, but is as devoted to the cause of having the undeniable third option heard on the debate stage,” said Wyllie campaign manager Danielle Alexandre. “I feel he has the same vigor as all of our staff and volunteers do, to ensure that Adrian be on that stage. I could not be happier to have him join our team.”

Wyllie‘s team pointed to a Quinnipiac Poll released this week which showed their candidate at 8 percent and noted the 2014 debates were using a different standard than Linn faced back in 2006.

“The campaign is set to fight to make sure that we be included in the debates and we will not stand for our voices to be silenced by erroneous criteria set out to exclude viable alternatives in the race,” the Wyllie campaign noted earlier this week. “In 2006, the criteria to secure participation in the debates required only that a candidate poll 7 percent or higher. What has changed in our political environment to warrant such a significant change in their criteria? Why in 2006 was 7 percent viable, but in 2014 it is 15 percent?"

"The people of Florida are demanding a third choice, and we are going to make sure that their voice is heard,” Wyllie said on Thursday. “We will not go quietly."
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Florida TaxWatch released a study on Thursday looking at the Panhandle’s economy and how that part of the Sunshine State is poised for future growth.

"Florida is experiencing increased investment in all regions of the state, and as new companies develop and existing companies grow, they are recognizing the value and available resources of the Florida Panhandle," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

"TaxWatch research shows that in addition to expansion of the manufacturing and trade, transportation, and utilities sectors, increased investment in tourism marketing by Visit Florida is helping the Florida Panhandle to bolster its number of annual visitors," said Jerry Parrish, Florida TaxWatch’s chief economist.

The report can be read here.


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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie will launch his first TV ad this week, running it on stations in Tampa Bay.

"You have been inundated with attack ads about Rick Scott and Charlie Crist,” Wyllie says in the ad. “Sadly, they are mostly true. The good news is, you have a third choice. I'm Adrian Wyllie, Libertarian candidate for governor of Florida. I am in this race because I'm like you. I'm fed up with the politicians using money and power to benefit themselves while making our lives more difficult. I want you and your family to enjoy freedom and prosperity. Don't let them scare you into voting for more of the same. This time take a stand."

The Wyllie campaign plans to run more ads in October.

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The Republican Governors Association (RGA) pushed back on Wednesday against California billionaire Tom Steyer whose NextGen Climate PAC has been hitting Republicans across the nation with a new website.

“It’s time liberal billionaire Tom Steyer’s agenda was addressed for what it really is: extreme, out-of-touch, and hypocritical,” said Gail Gitcho, a spokeswoman for the RGA. “Steyer struck it rich by investing in ‘dirty’ energy, and then did an about-face when it became politically convenient. Plus, what Steyer doesn’t want anyone to know is that he’s hiding his own personal political ambitions behind his faux advocacy. Steyer’s wealth and troubling connections shouldn’t be driving the debate in these important races, and this website will allow voters to separate truth from abounding fiction.”

The new site hits Steyer’s connection and his business record. Steyer’s group has been active in Florida, running attack ads against Gov. Rick Scott.
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A new poll shows Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State, is losing steam.

WFLA released a poll taken by Survey USA on Tuesday showing 53 percent of those surveyed back Amendment 2 while 32 percent are opposed to it and 15 percent are undecided. Last week, WFLA released a poll showing 56 percent backed Amendment 2 which needs 60 percent to pass on the November ballot.

The poll of 588 likely voters was taken from Sept. 19-22 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate challenging Gov. Rick Scott in November, made up some ground in the most recent WFLA poll which was taken by Survey USA. In last week’s WFLA poll, Scott led Crist by 5 percent.

In the WFLA poll released on Tuesday, Scott leads by the narrowest of margins. Scott takes 43 percent with Crist right behind him with 42 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 4 percent while 11 percent back other candidates or are undecided.

The poll of 588 likely voters was taken from Sept. 19-22 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.
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Social and religious conservatives are getting mobilized across Florida with less than six weeks to go until the general election.

Vision America Action and Watchmen on the Wall, which is affiliated with the Family Research Council (FRC), will be holding events for pastors in Melbourne on Wednesday, and Tallahassee and Panama City on Thursday. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., who moved to the Panhandle after his presidential bid in 2008, will speak at the Panama City event and leaders from FRC and John Stemberger from the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) will also be speaking at the meetings.

Huckabee is not the only former Republican presidential candidate who will be in Florida mobilizing religious and social conservatives before the election. The FFPC is hosting an event next month in Orlando with Gary Bauer who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000.

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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) looked to tie former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate running against Gov. Rick Scott in November, to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law in a TV ad unveiled on Tuesday night.

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“Charlie Crist famously said that Obamacare’s 'been great!' but it’s clear that Obamacare isn’t great for Florida,” said RPOF Chairwoman Leslie Dougher on Tuesday night. “Obamacare is forcing Floridians to pay more for their health care and it's making it harder for Florida small businesses to create jobs.  Because of Obamacare, patients are losing their doctors and losing their health care plans, even though President Obama promised they wouldn’t. Charlie Crist’s love of Obamacare shows that he’ll use the Obama playbook of bigger government, higher taxes and skyrocketing debt if he's elected again -- a playbook Floridians can't afford.”
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Quinnipiac University released a poll on Wednesday morning showing the Florida gubernatorial contest remains very close. Gov. Rick Scott leads with 44 percent followed by former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate, with 42 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie continues to be a factor, taking 8 percent in the poll. Other candidates garner 1 percent while 5 percent of voters are undecided.

When Wyllie is taken out of the race, Scott continues to lead with 46 percent and Crist gets 44 percent in that scenario.

Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said voters backing Wyllie and independents -- who break 44 percent for Scott, 37 percent for Crist and 11 percent for Wyllie -- will determine the race.

"The two voter groups that will tell the tale of the election are independent voters and those who are backing Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie,” said Brown on Wednesday. “Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist are doing about the same with their respective party bases and former Republican Crist is not having any trouble being accepted by members of his new party.

"Wyllie voters are the bigger unknown because there is little way of predicting if they will stay with the third-party challenger or decide to switch to Scott or Crist in order to be with a winner," Brown added. "At this point, neither major-party candidate is doing markedly better as a second choice of Wyllie voters. It is also worth considering that there is a consensus that negative campaigning tends to be a turnoff more to the very people who seem to hold the keys to the kingdom -- independents and third-party voters."

The poll of 991 likely voters was taken from Sept. 17-22 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

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The John Thrasher for Senate Campaign, Senate District 6, distributed the following statement, which it attributes to Thrasher.

“I am honored that the FSU board of trustees has selected me to be the next president of Florida State University. However, this is just one more step in a long process which, under Florida law, must end with the approval of the Board of Governors (BOG). While I am hopeful that the BOG will accept the trustees' decision, that final decision will not be known until November.

“In the meantime, I intend to continue to campaign for re-election to the Senate and will continue to carry out my commitment to the people of my district. If I am ultimately selected to lead FSU, this will allow the voters to select who will be the next senator from the 6th District.”

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Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and President-Designate Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, released statements Tuesday regarding the Florida State University board of trustees selecting state Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, as Florida State’s new president.

Tuesday's selection now goes to the State University System Board of Governors.

President Gaetz:

“John Thrasher will lead Florida State University with the same consummate skill and commitment to excellence that has propelled him to success at every level of public service. From the battlefields of Vietnam, from which he returned as a highly decorated officer, to his years of honorable service as Florida’s speaker of the House of Representatives, and now as the lion of the Senate, if you want to succeed you want John Thrasher leading your team.

“In the tradition of Sandy D'Alemberte and T.K. Wetherell, John Thrasher will lead Florida State into a golden era of strength, integrity and success. While the Senate’s loss will be FSU’s gain, I have every confidence the State University System Board of Governors will ratify this wise selection.”

President-Designate Gardiner:

“I have mixed emotions today as I congratulate my friend John Thrasher. I am proud to call John a colleague, confidante and trusted adviser. While I will miss our interactions in the day to day operations of the Senate and the opportunity to serve together over the next two years, there is no question he is the right choice to lead Florida State as the university strives to solidify its ranking as a top research university. Florida State will be a stronger university with John Thrasher at the helm. Camille and I wish John and Jean great success as they embark on the next step of this journey, and we know they will always be a part of our Senate family.”

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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) unveiled a new TV ad on Tuesday linking Democrat Gwen Graham to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Graham is running against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in what is expected to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the nation.

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“Gwen Graham thinks Obamacare is less of an issue but hundreds of thousands of Florida families are losing their coverage and small businesses are hurting,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Tuesday. “It’s clear that Gwen’s Washington insider is showing because her views on Obamacare are not the North Florida way."

The ad is running in Tallahassee and Panama City.
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On Tuesday, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican candidate challenging U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., released a new video attacking the Democrat incumbent on ethics.

The new video features Garcia talking about a scandal-plagued congressman -- then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fla., who the Democrat beat in 2012. But Garcia has been hobbled by his own ethics problems including having his chief of staff resign and do time in jail for his role in a voter fraud scandal resulting from the 2012 elections.

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