Obama makes rare endorsement in St. Pete race — Relatives denounce Wasserman Schultz’s ex-aide — Nelson: help for Haitians — Miller out, Buchanan in?


By Marc Caputo ([email protected]; @MarcACaputo) with Raquel Zaldivar ([email protected]; @raqzal), Sergio Bustos ([email protected]; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Friday morning! Florida Playbook, and I, are taking next week off. So we’ll see you next month. And go Canes. So let’s start this off right, with an exclusive …

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YES HE CAN? — “Obama makes rare endorsement in tight St. Petersburg race,” by POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo: Former President Barack Obama is intervening in a bellwether Florida election, endorsing St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in the hopes of juicing Democratic turnout in Tuesday’s multi-candidate race in order to force a November run-off, sources tell POLITICO. Obama’s rare endorsement is crucial both for Kriseman — who had been bleeding support from African-American voters — and for a demoralized Florida Democratic Party that’s still reeling over President Trump’s surprise win in November.

The state Democratic Party has made Kriseman’s reelection a priority and has tried to make the unpopular Trump a millstone to weigh down the front-runner, Republican candidate Rick Baker, a former mayor of the Tampa Bay-area city. According to some polls, Baker is close to exceeding 50 percent of the vote, which would hand him the seat outright without the need for a Nov. 7 runoff. … A Democratic Party poll indicates Trump’s approval numbers are the inverse of Obama’s in the city. Trump has the support of just 37 percent of voters while 61 percent disapprove of the president. Obama is supported by 61 percent of the city’s voters, with 35 percent disapproving. Obama’s biggest support is among African-American voters, who back him 92-8. Read more

CAN’T GET OBAMA? — “Taddeo fundraiser will feature former presidential candidate O’Malley,” by Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei: Read more

… TRUMPLANDIA AND THE SWAMP …

SOUTH FLORIDA MAN — “Roger Stone Impeach Trump … Get Ready for Civil War,” by TMZ: “Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign advisor who still counsels the President says if Congress impeaches Donald Trump, there will be all-out war in the U.S. We got Stone at LAX Wednesday and he warned any politician who’s thinking of voting for impeachment to think again, because their lives would be in danger. He goes on to say ‘both sides’ are heavily armed and bloodshed would be inevitable.” Read more

CENTRAL FLORIDA WOMAN — “After Charlottesville, Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Doubles Down: Resisting Him Is Resisting ‘the Hand of God,’” by Slate’s Ruth Graham: “Televangelist and pastor Paula White has known Donald Trump since the early 2000s, and she is thought to be the president’s closest spiritual adviser … she made an extended comparison of the president to the biblical figure Esther on Bakker’s show Monday, in an interview that at times sounded more like an impassioned sermon. Like Esther, White said, Trump is a come-from-nowhere figure elevated to leadership against all odds in order to do God’s will. She described Trump as a generous, humble man of “character and integrity” and vouched repeatedly for the state of his soul. ‘He surrounds himself with Christians, and he is a Christian,’ she told Bakker, about a man who’s been widely reported as being irreligious for most of his life, prompting applause from the studio audience. ‘He loves prayer.’” Read more

HAITIAN HOPE — “Nelson urging Trump administration to extend TPS for Haitians,” by POLITICO Florida’s Sergio Bustos: Sen. Bill Nelson is once again pushing the Trump administration to extend a special immigration program for about 60,000 Haitian nationals living in the United States, including tens of thousands in South Florida. He made his request in a letter sent Thursday to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. He’s asking that Temporary Protected Status be extended for a full 18 months beyond the current expiration date of Jan. 22, 2018. The TPS program is one of several forms of relief the U.S. has given to foreigners over the years when their homelands are struck by natural disasters or armed conflict. The program allows nationals of the affected countries to remain in the U.S. and receive work permits until the disaster or unrest in their home countries abates. TPS was originally issued in 2011 for Haitians after the country’s devastating earthquake. Haiti is one of 13 countries with a TPS designation. Read more.

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM? — “GOP lawmakers urge Trump to keep protections for ‘Dreamers’,” by The Hill’s Cristina Marcos: “The letter released Thursday was signed by Reps. Dan Donovan (N.Y.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), David Valadao (Calif.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Don Bacon (Neb.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.).” Read more

“‘Dreamers’ want Rubio, Diaz-Balart to oppose ‘Trump’s massive deportation machine,’” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary Read more

— “David Jolly: A primary challenge to Trump could save the Republican Party,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ David Jolly: Read more

“David Jolly, Patrick Murphy team up to shine light on Washington gridlock and dysfunction,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam C. Smith: Read more

DEBBIE ON DEFENSE — “EXCLUSIVE: Wasserman Schultz’ ‘Islamophobia’ Claim Prompts Angered Marine To Go Public On Awans,” by The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak: A Marine who provided key evidence in the FBI case against Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s former IT employee said he is appalled by her claim that Islamophobia led U.S. Capitol Police to frame the former staffer. Also Wednesday, two of Imran Awan’s relatives went on the record to say they think he would do anything for money. Andre Taggart alerted the FBI to damaged hard drives and a cache of electronics tied to Imran Awan, a former IT specialist for dozens of House Democrats. Awan is the central figure in a criminal investigation of suspected procurement fraud and violations of the congressional IT network, including diverting data to an off-site server.” Read more

QUIETER — “Gil Smart: Town hall heat eases for Rep. Brian Mast in Port St. Lucie,” by the TC Palm’s Gil Smart: Read more

POLITICO MAGAZINE FRIDAY COVER — “My Weekend at the Falwells’ South Beach Flophouse,” by Brandon Ambrosino: Liberty University presents itself as a temple of virtue. But its founding family’s secret Miami hostel is a cesspool of vice. Read More

… PENINSULA AND BEYOND …

TWEAK SNEAK PEEK — “CRC members discuss potential constitutional tweaks as meetings near,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: A panel of Constitution Revision Commission members gathered Wednesday to discuss a range of issues as it prepares to recommend changes to Florida’s constitution. Four commission members held a panel during the Associated Industries of Florida’s conference in Orlando. Commission members in attendance were state Sen. Tom Lee (R-Thonotosassa); Marva Johnson, who chairs the Florida State Board of Education; insurance lobbyist Fred Karlinsky; and former state Sen. Chris Smith. Smith said he wants to discuss open primaries, which would allow a voter with any party affiliation to cast a ballot in any political party’s primary election. Lee also said it’s important to consider “ballot management” as the commission considers how many proposals to send to the 2018 ballot. He also said the panel is likely to at least consider issues like the restoration of voting rights for felons. Read story here

WATER WARS — “Group raises concerns with state water pipeline project, meetings format,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: A proposal to pipe water from a St. Johns River tributary to lakes near Keystone Heights raises concerns about environmental consequences, says a leading environmental group in the North Florida region. The St. Johns River Water Management District in July gave preliminary approval for piping water 20 miles from Black Creek in eastern Clay County to the Keystone Heights region. On Tuesday, state Sen. Rob Bradley filed Senate Bill 204 to provide $50 million annually for the pipeline along with restoration and land conservation projects along the St. Johns River. The St. Johns Riverkeeper environmental group is worried about possible “unintended consequences” from pumping but is not opposing the project, said the group’s Lisa Rinaman. “Our position is we have concerns,” she told POLITICO Florida. “It is early — there are too many unanswered questions to be opposed.” Read story here.

PRIVATE $ ONLY— “Scott backs Corcoran’s push to eliminate public campaign financing,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he is supporting House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s proposal to abolish the state’s public campaign financing system. “Governor Scott believes that taxpayers should not be asked to fund political campaigns,” McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, told POLITICO Florida. On Wednesday, Corcoran and state Rep. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) sent a letter to the Constitution Revision Commission asking it to recommend abolishing the state’s public campaign finance system. Read story here

RIP — “Funeral for former state Sen. Greg Evers set for Tuesday,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: Read story here

CONFEDERATE CRACK — “While moving it in the middle of the night, crews break Confederate monument,” by the Bradenton Herald’s Mark Young and Hannah Morse: “Manatee County removed the Confederate war veteran memorial from the Manatee County Courthouse grounds at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, ‘when no one’s around,’ said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker … ‘The shaft’s easy separation from the base was a sign that the monument was a potential hazard before the move began and could have toppled in a strong storm or if it had been pushed or pulled at the right point… But it’s a clean crack, so it should be fairly easy to repair.’” Read more

— “Sen. Lauren Book proposes eliminating Confederate holiday [April 26],” by The News Service of Florida: Read more

— “In Florida, who’s in charge of this Confederate monument?” by the AP’s Gary Fineout: Read more

Why Robert E. Lee’s name is missing from the sign at this Jacksonville high school,” by Jacksonville.com’s Dan Scanlan: Read more

DEBIT FLORIDA — “Visit Florida pays out $441,000 in bonuses,” by the AP’s Gary Fineout: “Florida’s tourism marketing agency — which came under fire for approving a secret $1 million deal with rapper Pitbull — paid nearly $441,000 in employee bonuses this summer. Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Visit Florida, said that while the bonuses were paid in July, they were actually approved by the agency board back in May 2016. Visit Florida paid the bonuses to 119 employees with amounts ranging from just a few hundred dollars to nearly $29,000. The president and CEO of Visit Florida did not receive a bonus.” Read more

THAT WAS FAST — “Sarasota lawmaker Alex Miller resigns from Legislature,” by the Herald-Tribune’s Zac Anderson: “Freshman state Rep. Alex Miller, a wealthy Sarasota Republican viewed by many in the party as a promising up-and-coming political talent, abruptly announced Thursday she is resigning from her legislative position, citing family and business reasons … Miller’s resignation is effective Sept. 1. Gov Rick Scott will call a special election to replace her. The race already had a candidate Thursday morning. Republican James Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, announced he will end his bid for another state House seat that mostly is in Manatee County and run for Miller’s District 72 seat, which includes much of northern Sarasota County. Buchanan lives in Sarasota.” Read more

GAY LIVES MATTER — “Group calls for referendum on expanded Jacksonville human-rights ordinance,” by Jacksonville.com’s David Bauerlein: “Empower Jacksonville said it would work for two August 2018 ballot initiatives: one a straw ballot on the expansion of the anti-discrimination ordinance, and another to give citizens the ability to repeal laws passed by city council. The City Council voted in February to expand the city’s anti-discrimination law to cover people on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Previously, the law protected individuals based on race, national origin, age, gender, disability, familial status and religion.” Read more

BLUE LIVES MATTER — “Thousands attend Kissimmee police funeral: ‘Heroes that fell together … we honor them together,’” by the Orlando Sentinel’s Christal Hayes and Caitlin Doornbos: Read more

FINDING MS. DAISY — “Florida House will investigate where legislator lives,” by the AP: “A Florida legislative panel is going to investigate whether a lawmaker is living in her district. House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Thursday created a special committee to look into allegations that Rep. Daisy Baez, a Democrat from the Miami area, has not been living in her district during most or all of her time in the House. Baez was first elected last year, but she briefly ran for a state Senate seat that came open this spring. The Miami Herald reported in May that it appeared that Baez lived in a house a half-mile from her district. Florida law requires legislators to live in their districts at the time of their election.” Read more

… ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN …

ALWAYS LOW MORALS — “Lawsuit: Walmart worker fired after caring for sick child,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew: “According to the lawsuit, [Anthony] Kelley was supposed to work on Aug. 11, 2016. But after his son got sick and started throwing up blood, Kelley took him to the doctor, who later determined the boy suffered an allergic reaction to something he ate. Kelley realized he wouldn’t be able to work his shift that day and used a mobile app to report he would not appear as scheduled, the lawsuit says. He reported for work the next day, without any further absence.” Read more

ADDICTED TO CURRENCY — “Hooked, hoodwinked: Some drug rehabs aim for relapse and $$$,” by the AP’s Curt Anderson: “Rather than working to get people well, a growing number of unscrupulous industry players are focusing on getting patients to relapse so that insurance dollars keep rolling in, according to law enforcement officials, treatment experts and people trying to beat their addictions.” Read more

“The ‘Cash Me Outside Girl’ enters the world of rap, and she’s talking s—,” by the Miami Herald’s Howard Cohen: Read more

“Hurricane Harvey could send Florida gas prices soaring” by the Palm Beach Post’s Jennifer Sorentrue: Read more

— “Lion Country Safari: Animals bit, gored and mauled visitors, staff,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Barbara Marshall: Read more

“Need a home for the holidays? Dr. Oz’s Palm Beach manse asks $95k/month,” by The Real Deal: Read more

“U.S. Says It Is Preparing Sanctions Against More Venezuelan Officials,” by The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Talley: Read more

“She traveled to Honduras to visit relatives. Now she’s lying in a Miami hospital bed,” by the Miami Herald’s Brenda Medina: Read more

— “Housing Finance Authority terminates contract with Knowles & Randolph,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Byron Dobson: Read more

— “Fred Levin pledges to make Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana available in Pensacola,” by the Pensacola News Journal’s Joseph Baucum: Read more

‘THIS IS JUST NASTY’ — “‘Crapperman’ sought by Florida police after defecating behind store,” by the Palm Beach Post’s Sarah Elsesser: “Florida police are searching for a person they’re calling ‘Crapperman’ after he left a not so pleasant surprise behind a business. The shirtless, bearded man was caught on camera defecating behind a jewelry store in the Florida panhandle around 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Crestview Police Department. The incident wasn’t noticed until an employee ‘nearly stepped in the evidence,’ police said. ‘This is just nasty,’ store owner Forrest ‘Joey’ Tinklepaugh stated in a Facebook post in which he shared the security video. ‘People have no respect for others anymore.’” Read more

FOR MORE political and policy news, check out Politico Florida’s home page: http://politi.co/1jkJUyL. And please follow our staff @mdixon55, @sbustosFL, @christinesexton, @dducassi, and @bruceritchie on Twitter.

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