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On Monday, Rick Scott said he wasn’t ready to endorse in Florida’s presidential primary election on March 15, but there are those who believe he might be leaning towards Donald Trump. That speculation was sparked last month, when Scott penned an op-ed in USA Today, a column in which he wrote very favorably about the New York City billionaire real estate developer. “I know Donald Trump personally, and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely. But I don’t think his ability to give the most interesting interviews or speeches is the only thing that has him leading in the polls. I think he is capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy.” The quiet speculation broke out into the open on Tuesday, when The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza listed Scott on a short-list of possible running mates that Trump might be contemplating as he continues to roll through the Republican primary and caucus calendar. Read more at FLORIDA POLITICS
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Jeb Bush, unable to muster enthusiasm for his presidential bid beyond the family network that helped him raise a record $160 million, is suspending his campaign following a disappointing finish in South Carolina. The decision follows a string of underwhelming primary finishes for the former Florida governor, including in New Hampshire where he invested heavily and bet on a massive ground organization but still finished behind Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. Read more POLITICO
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Rep. Alan Grayson is “unethical.” Rep. Patrick Murphy is a “lickspittle pillock.” With each incongruously mentioning Valentine's Day, the two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate traded insults on Sunday, as Grayson’s campaign continued to reel from allegations of impropriety over an offshore hedge fund run by Grayson that is the subject of an ongoing House ethics investigation.  Grayson has denied wrongdoing and described the complaints against him as politically motivated. Read more in POLITICO
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MANCHESTER, N.H. – Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has staked his flagging presidential bid on a strong performance in this first-in-the-nation primary state, called Monday for New Hampshire voters to “reset” the race.  “The reset has started as of tonight,” Bush said, adding, “Next Tuesday, we’re going to surprise the world.” Having already written off a solid showing in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, Bush set up what could be the last stand for the man once presumed to be the dominant Republican in the contest. Bush has wagered much of what is left of his comeback prospects on a strong performance in the Feb. 9 primary. Read more by Boston Globe's Jim O'Sullivan   
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Jacksonville’s bid for authority to enact a half-cent sales tax for its massive pension debt will trigger debate in the state Legislature over what kind of strings — if any — lawmakers will attach to the tax in terms of altering or eliminating pension plans for future city employees. As it stands, the pension legislation leaves an array of retirement options on the table for Jacksonville — future hires could go into 401(k) style plans, or be moved into the Florida Retirement System, or even go into new local pension plans that would be separate from current plans that cover existing employees and retirees. Read more at The Florida Times-Union
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Gov. Rick Scott issued a non-endorsement endorsement of Donald Trump by penning a Wednesday op-ed in USA Today in which he lauded the GOP presidential frontrunner for bucking the Republican “establishment.” “I won the governor’s race in 2010 and many outsiders — some businesspeople — continue to shock the political establishment by coming into elected office from careers outside of politics,” Scott wrote in the piece, headlined “Donald Trump has America's pulse: Rick Scott.” “I know Donald Trump personally,” Scott continued, “and while I currently have no plans to endorse a candidate before Florida’s March presidential primary, there is no doubt that Donald is a man who speaks and tweets his mind freely.” Scott’s praise of Trump as a candidate marks a turnaround from June, when the New York billionaire and part-time Florida resident was frozen out of the economic forum the governor hosted in Orlando with other likely Republican presidential contenders at the time. Insiders said Trump was fuming. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — House Majority Leader Dana Young said Tuesday she will run for state Senate, a move that was widely expected after a new set of state Senate maps were implemented as part of a redistricting lawsuit. The Tampa Republican plans to run for the now-open Senate District 18, which includes half of her House seat’s current population. “Assuming the Florida Supreme Court approves the redistricting plan, I intend to run for the Florida Senate in the newly-created Senate District 18, which contains vast portions of my current House district,” she told POLITICO Florida. “This would be the best way for me to continue to serve the citizens of Tampa and Hillsborough County.” In anticipation of a Senate run, she had a big fundraising month in December, bringing in more than $170,000. Read more in POLITICO
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TALLAHASSEE — Republican Party of Florida executive director Brad Herold is leaving to become campaign manager for the Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a move that caps a difficult year for the party. “Working for the Republican Party of Florida has been a great experience, and I want to thank Blaise for the opportunity,” said Herold, who will officially leave the party before the end of the month. RPOF is not yet announcing Herold's replacement or whether there will be an interim executive director. Read more in POLITICO
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Tallahassee - Jesse Panuccio, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, is stepping down, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday morning. Since being appointed to the post in 2013, Panuccio has led the department through controversy over technical problems with the online filing system for unemployment benefits and been one of Scott’s top advisers in jobs and economic development. His last day will be Jan. 8, 2016. According to a letter of resignation, he is leaving, “to begin a new chapter of my career and life.” The governor’s office released that Panuccio will “pursue new opportunities.” The resignation comes just before the start of a new legislative session, when Panuccio will be up for confirmation in the Senate, a chamber that has been highly critical of him and which did not confirm him last year. Read more in Tampa Bay Times   Jessie Panuccio is featured on Episode 28: Launch Fraud Protection
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TALLAHASSEE — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a rising figure in Democratic politics, is actively taking calls about mounting a primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, whose seat was drastically altered as part of a long-running redistricting legal challenge. “People are reaching out to Mayor Gillum because Washington desperately needs the type of energy and focus he brings every day as mayor,” said Kevin Cate, a longtime Gillum adviser. “He’s listening and will make his decision on how he can best continue creating new jobs and opportunities, while also being a great husband and father.” With Florida Democrats viewed as having a short candidate bench, Gillum, 36, has long been considered destined for higher office.  That buzz intensified when the Florida Supreme Court ended a long running congressional redistricting lawsuit by selecting a map that draws Brown’s Jacksonville-based 5th Congressional District in a configuration stretching west to the Tallahassee region. Read more in POLITICO
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A weekly podcast focusing on the people and stories shaping Florida politics produced by Trimmel Gomes an award-winning journalist and former statewide news director of Florida Public Radio. Gomes hosted its flagship program "Capital Report" and created the public affairs program "It's About Florida." Gomes is political commentator and regular political contributor to WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee.


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