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It’s a bromance: Texas Gov. Perry endorses “passionate” Rick Scott

Thursday, November 7th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Texas Gov. Rick Perry took time out Thursday from competing with Florida Gov. Rick Scott to endorse Scott’s run for reelection in 2014.

In a teleconference with reporters Thursday afternoon, Perry lauded Scott for 37 months of falling unemployment and steady job creation. And the one-time presidential contender lambasted Scott’s most recently announced Democratic rival, former Gov. Charlie Crist, for the loss of 832,000 jobs when Crist governed Florida as a Republican from 2007-2011.

“I know Rick Scott and I know Charlie Crist and know the difference. Rick Scott is a clear leader, a job creator who has been a great competitor,” Perry said. “He is one passionate dude. He is a guy who is absolutely on fire about creating opportunities for the people of Florida.”

Crist filed his candidacy papers Nov. 1, and is competing with former Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, for the Democratic nomination for governor.

— Tony Doris, assistant watchdog editor

Running the numbers on red state vs. blue state tax policies

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 by George Bennett

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry touting low taxes in West Palm Beach last month

When Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited West Palm Beach last month, he and Florida Gov. Rick Scott touted low state taxes as a key to economic growth.

Perry said he wanted to “drive a conversation in this country about Red State vs. Blue State policies.”

Palm Beach Post business writer Jeff Ostrowski drives the conversation some more today with a look at job growth, unemployment and other indicators in four low-tax states — Texas, Florida, Nevada and Washington — and three high-tax states — New York, New Jersey and California.

Click here to read the red-vs.-blue analysis.

Texas Gov. Perry says Florida would be ‘foolish’ to oust Scott in 2014

Monday, April 8th, 2013 by George Bennett

WEST PALM BEACH — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, sharing the stage with Florida Gov. Rick Scott today at an international business gathering, put in a plug for Scott’s re-election in 2014.

“Floridians would be foolish to remove a guy with his leadership and his record as we go into the next election cycle,” Perry told a luncheon crowd of about 400 at the Palm Beach Strategic Forum at the county convention center.

Perry and Scott are holding forth on “governing for lasting economic growth” and their friendly economic rivalry.

Scott said he has imitated Perry in his low-tax, low-regulation strategies in trying to attract business to Florida.

“The things that we’re trying to do, Gov. Perry’s been doing,” Scott said.

Perry, who recently made a publicized attempts to lure businesses to Texas from California, said “I want to drive a conversation in this country about Red State vs. Blue State policies.”

Gov. Rick Scott streamin’ live at The Palm Beach Post this morning

Monday, April 8th, 2013 by George Bennett

Gov. Rick Scott will appear before The Palm Beach Post editorial board this morning at 9 a.m. Live video of the interview will be available at

For those who prefer their gubernatorial interviews in 140-character portions, Post reporter Andrew Abramson will be live-tweeting Scott’s appearance at @AbramsonPBP. There’ll also be some live tweeting at @gbennettpost.

Scott’s Palm Beach Post interview is expected to last one hour.

Later today, Scott and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will make a joint appearance at the Palm Beach Strategic Forum at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Follow and for coverage.

Feds approve first step of Florida’s Medicaid managed care push

Monday, February 4th, 2013 by John Kennedy

The Obama administration has approved Florida’s first step toward moving Medicaid patients into managed care programs — endorsing an approach advanced two years ago by the Legislature that stalled awaiting federal action, Gov. Rick Scott said Monday.

The waiver approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the Department of Health and Human Services allows state officials to begin moving long-term care patients into managed care programs. The state has already chosen five health plans that patients and their families can choose from. Scott was expecting a decision by Thursday, but federal officials informed Florida of the approval late Friday.

“I am appreciative that HHS approved one of our two important Medicaid waivers, and that they have done so before the February 7th deadline,” Scott said. “The additional flexibility provided through this waiver helps improve our current system, and HHS approval allows us to begin implementing changes to our current Medicaid program.”

A larger waiver, allowing for a full, statewide managed care program is still awaiting approval. Scott urged federal officials to OK that plan, which is emerging as an element in the state’s consideration of embracing the Medicaid expansion authorized under the Affordable Care Act.

Florida’s Medicaid toll has spiked with the recession and its aftermath.  Medicaid costs now absorb close to one-third of the state’s $70 billion budget.

Scott and leading Republican lawmakers, however, say the managed care approach can save Florida money. Medicaid’s costs also rise with fraud and waste, which lawmakers said managed  care companies would have more incentive to erase.

The federal application builds on the HMO-styled health coverage plans   introduced for Medicaid patients in Broward, Baker, Clay, Nassau and Duval   counties, beginning in 2006. But that program has drawn mixed reviews from   policy analysts, who question purported cost-savings and quality of patient   care.

Many patients have complained about dealing with a revolving door of managed   care plans, or having to travel long distances to receive specialty care.

Scott gets all of Florida’s four-year colleges to embrace $10K challenge

Monday, January 28th, 2013 by John Kennedy

After catching heat from even a member of the state’s Board of Education, Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that all 23 of Florida’s colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees have embraced his call for making available a $10,000 degree program.

Scott has been pushing to make higher education more affordable, ridiculing Florida’s universities for moving forward with tuition increases. The state college system, however, has ben more willing to follow Scott’s lead — and the governor Monday went to Miami Dade College’s north campus to announce a clean sweep of the four-year degree schools.

“Our goal should be that students do not have to go into debt in order to obtain a degree,” Scott said.

The cut-rate programs, like the four-year degrees at colleges, will be limited. Palm Beach State’s four-year degrees, are currently available only in business supervision and management, information technology and nursing.  Normally, they cost $13,200 over four years, roughly the state average .

Board of Education vice-chairman Roberto Martinez dismissed Scott’s proposal last fall as a “gimmick.” But Martinez’s two-terms on the board ended Dec. 31.

While the State College System was given the go-ahead by the Legislature to increase tuition 5 percent this year, colleges have largely escaped Scott’s scorn. In part, it may be because many of their programs are viewed as providing skills for current work force needs.

Randy Hanna, chancellor of the Florida College System, said last fall that he expected most individual colleges to go along with offering at least one job-oriented degree program at the lower rate to get students out into the local work force.

Scott’s idea isn’t original. Texas Gov. Rick Perry aired a similar challenge in that state in 2012. Since then, 10 universities have offered $10,000 degrees.

Critics have warned the initiative could lead to states sacrificing some level of quality education by deploying adjunct professors and teaching assistants to reduce costs to meet the $10,000 standard. Others also have said publicly financed scholarships may have to be beefed-up to reduce the cost to students.

Scott in Texas pitching Sunshine State to Chinese investors

Friday, September 21st, 2012 by John Kennedy

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is spending Friday in Texas with fellow Republican Govs. Rick Perry of  Texas and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, pitching their respective states to a host of Chinese investors.

The U.S.-China Cross Border Private Investment Summit at Cowboys Stadium is the first stop for a six-city U.S.-China Investment Week conference, which includes an event next week in Orlando. About 50 major Chinese investors are taking part in the tour, looking for investment opportunities in the U.S.

Scott is spending the day in the Dallas-area, capped by a dinner Friday night where former President George W. Bush is slated to address the gathering.

Scott’s trip coincides with new employment numbers being released by the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity. Florida’s unemployment rate stayed at 8.8 percent for the month of August, but with 28,000 new private sector jobs created, it marked the state’s best performance in 16-months.

“This increase in new jobs is proving that the decisions we’re making here in Florida are pointing our state in the right direction,” Scott said. “Employers are aware of the talented and skilled workforce we have here, and the August numbers prove that the economic climate in Florida is one that encourages job creation and economic development.”

Cannon voted for Perry — oops

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 by John Kennedy

House Speaker Dean Cannon was an early supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and apparently remains one of his most faithful.

With a laugh Thursday, Cannon acknowledged that he had cast his absentee ballot for Perry in next week’s Florida primary. Perry quit the race last week – before the most recent primary in South Carolina.

Cannon, R-Winter Park, didn’t want to talk much about it.

“The presidential race is something I am staying way away from,” Cannon said. “I’m just going to let that one stand.

“But I will say this. I think the real winner in this is Florida. By moving this primary date, no one can argue that that has not concentrated extraordinary attention, focus and emphasis and potentially decisiveness…on Florida,” he added.

Cannon helped pushed a state commission last September to change Florida’s primary date to Jan. 31 from its original March 6, to heighten the role Sunshine State voters would play in choosing a Republican nominee.

Cannon had already endorsed Perry, but the Texas governor’s campaign started teetering soon after with a faltering performance in a nationally televised debate at the Florida GOP’s Presidency 5 convention.


Scott rips feds for not giving Fla Race to the Top dollars

Friday, December 16th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott ripped the Obama administration Friday for rejecting Florida’s application for Race to the Top education dollars, deriding the decision as stemming from the state’s refusal to accept the money “with strings attached.”

Nine states were authorized by federal officials to share $500 million in grant money aimed at accelerating  improvements in early childhood programs. California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington state will get the dollars to make strides in pre-kindergarten education.

Scott said he suspected Florida was turned down because the state did not commit to continuing programs after federal dollars expired — a move he said was aimed at avoiding making state taxpayers pick up the tab for new government services.

 ”When Florida’s application was submitted for the grant in October, we made it clear that we would not accept grant money with strings attached, additional state spending obligations, or requirements that created new burdensome regulations on private providers,” Scott said.

 ” We stuck to our principles, and unfortunately our insistence against irresponsibly using one-time dollars for recurring government programs did not win the favor of the administration in Washington,” he added.

Race to the Top, the centerpiece of Obama’s education policies, has proved a thorny issue for Republicans. In the GOP presidential field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a staunch opponent, while Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, is a fan.

The funding approach also supports many of the early-learning measures promoted by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and state legislative leaders.

Still, Scott defied tea party activists in October when he submitted the state’s application.  But he was lured by the prospect of winning as much as $100 million in federal cash for the state — in a year when he wants to pump-up Florida K-12 spending by $1 billion.

Scott insisted, though, that he wouldn’t go along with federal officials dictating terms for how the state spent the money.

Florida won a $700 million federal grant under the program last year, in its second attempt at landing the cash. But Scott has pushed back millions of dollars in aid tied to Obama’s health care overhaul. The state’s Tea Party Network, also openly demanded in the fall that he steer clear of the Race to the Top effort.

But for all the line-in-the-sand drawing, Scott in September agreed to some conditions in advance of the application.

At Scott’s urging, the Legislative Budget Commission accepted a $3.4 million federal grant under the Affordable Care Act to provide home visiting services to at-risk families. Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, was among those urging against the move, saying the program’s mission was murky, and he feared it could result in the state facing additional costs.


Bondi to co-host GOP presidential debate

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Bondi with Fox News correspondent John Roberts

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will co-host the GOP presidential debate on Fox News this weekend, according to a press release distributed by the Republican Party of Florida this morning.

Bondi, a Fox fave who often appeared on the news channel as a legal analyst before her election in January and a frequent guest star since, will join fellow Republican attorneys general Ken Kuccinelli of Virginia and E. Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s show Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Bondi is leading the charge in the multi-state federal health care lawsuit, launched by her predecessor Bill McCollum, now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Undoing the health care law is among the GOP presidential wannabes’ top campaign pledges.

“This forum is an excellent opportunity to engage each of the candidates in a candid conversation about issues that are important to voters in our state and across the nation,” Bondi said in the press release. “This will be a historic election, and I am excited to play a part in helping voters gain a better understanding of candidates’ beliefs on fundamental issues such as constitutionalism and the role of government.”

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum have all agreed to participate in the forum, according to the release.

Perry’s ‘oops’ moment gives Scott pause

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s nationally televised “oops” moment – where the GOP presidential contender could not remember one of the three government agencies he would do away with – prompted Gov. Rick Scott to be extra-careful during his first sit-down with The Palm Beach Post editorial board yesterday.

Scott told The Post this afternoon that he thought of Perry’s gaffe during some tough questioning from newspaper’s ed board.

“I had three points I was going to make and I thought, ‘Oh boy. I hope I remember the three.’ It was funny,” Scott said, smiling.

But not as funny, to the governor at least, as a temporary lapse by editorial writer Jac VerSteeg, whose name Scott could not recall.

“Then the guy sitting next to Randy (Schultz), he forgot his third point. That was funny,” Scott said.

Like Perry, each of the GOP candidates have had to contend with flubs, especially when they appear to be gaining ground in the race. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – the latest leader of the pack – is fighting off criticism over his relationship with Freddie Mac, the federally-backed (and GOP whipping post) mortgage institution. Read what Gingrich had to say about the issue yesterday in Jacksonville.

Given the degree of exposure the candidates are getting, it’s not surprising their flaws are being exposed, Scott said.

“We have eight candidates. They are able to get their message out. With all these debates, there’s a lot of focus on it. So I think it’s positive that Americans get to learn a lot more about these candidates,” Scott said.

Jobs report promising, Scott says, but plenty of work ahead

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott, in Jacksonville for a series of meetings, praised today’s jobs report, saying the work he and state lawmakers did earlier this year is helping to turn the state around.

The news is especially welcome as the holiday season approaches, Scott told reporters at The Jacksonville Landing overlooking the St. Johns River.

“With the holiday season starting, it’s nice to have some encouraging news. Our unemployment is continuing to drop,” Scott said.

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped slightly last month, down .3 from 10.6 percent in September to 10.3 percent and down from 12 percent in January. Palm Beach County’s jobless rate is the lowest in two years. Scott said the state has added 106,900 jobs since he took office this year.

“So it’s encouraging. It’s good it’s happening right now. We have to keep after it. We still have 900,000 people out of work but we’re headed in the right direction,” said Scott, whose pledge to bring 700,000 jobs to Florida in seven years was a cornerstone of his campaign for governor.

Floridians are more confident because the governor and legislature lowered taxes for small businesses and because Scott’s administration is more business-friendly, the governor said.

“The attitude has really changed. They know we’re going to balance their budget without raising taxes or borrowing more money. This is the first year in 20 years we didn’t borrow more money. This is the first year we paid down the debt in 20 years. We’ve been increasing the debt in this state by $1 billion a year for 20 years,” Scott said.

“I think they feel good that we’ve started the process of reducing the business tax for smaller companies. And the property tax for homeowners and for businesses. I think the other thing is the individuals I’ve appointed to these agencies…They have an attitude that they’re going to help business people solve problems if they can. If they can’t, they can’t. and they’re going to tell them quickly. Because what a business person wants, they want certainty. If you’re not going to approve something, don’t approve it. But say it up front. Don’t say it in two years or five years,” the former health care executive said.

As he often does when speaking of Florida’s job creation success, Scott mentioned his competitor-in-chief, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who apparently one-upped the Sunshine State again.

Although Florida created more jobs than Texas last month, the Lone Star State’s corporate climate was ranked top in the nation by executives. Florida ranked fourth, Scott said.

“I talked with him the other day and of course what he brings up…I told him how we beat him last month in job creation and there’s a site selector survey, did you see that, where they won that. We’re number four,” Scott said, adding that he asked his staff to find out what Florida’s ranking was last year.

As for taking credit for the state’s incremental unemployment turn-around, Scott wouldn’t bite.

“I’m always cautious about that,” he said with a grin.

Scott was supposed to have lunch with legislators from the region at the riverfront shopping plaza but the meeting was canceled, his staff said.

Rick Perry’s cringeworthy moment: ‘Commerce, Education and the, uh…..’

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 by George Bennett

The Department of Energy, a Jimmy Carter creation that has been a familiar conservative punching bag for more than three decades, eluded Texas Gov. Rick Perry during tonight’s GOP presidential debate when he launched into a familiar riff about federal agencies he’d like to dismantle.

“It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the, uh, what’s the third one there, let’s see….”

By the time Perry came up with the Department of Energy minutes later, the episode was already being compared to other legendary self-inflicted presidential debate wounds, including former President Gerald R. Ford‘s insistence in 1976 that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.”

Rick Santorum to campaign at Palm Beach County GOP picnic Saturday

Friday, November 4th, 2011 by George Bennett


Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who has focused primarily on Iowa and other early states rather than Florida, will visit a Palm Beach County Republican Party picnic on Saturday at John Prince Park in Lake Worth, party officials said today.

Representatives of Santorum’s campaign could not be reached this morning.

U.S. Reps. Allen West, R-Plantation, and Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, are also expected at the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the park’s Center Drive Pavilion. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children and $50 for a family of four. Griffin Perry, the son of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is also expected to attend.

Rick Perry unveils campaign organization for Palm Beach County, Southeast Florida

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 by George Bennett


As reported in The Palm Beach Post earlier this week, former Palm Beach County GOP Vice Chairwoman Beth Kigel will chair Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s campaign in Palm Beach County, the Perry camp announced today.

Kigel has served similar leadership roles with Charlie Crist‘s 2006 campaign for governor, John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign and the 2010 gubernatorial campaigns of Bill McCollum and then Rick Scott.

The Perry campaign also announced four Palm Beach County co-chairs: county GOP Treasurer and Republican Jewish Coalition activist Ira Sabin; former county Young Republicans president Jackie Fay; county GOP Secretary Michael Barnett; and former Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches president Linda Gore.

Read a complete list of the Perry campaign’s Southeast Florida campaign leaders after the jump….


Florida poll: Cain 34%, Romney 28%, Gingrich 11%, Perry fading

Thursday, October 13th, 2011 by George Bennett

Cain talks to a scribe and others during a stop in Central Florida last week in this Orlando Sentinel photo.

New Hampshire-based American Research Group’s poll of 600 likely Florida Republican voters finds businessman Herman Cain taking a 34-to-28 percent lead against Mitt Romney. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the only other candidate in double digits at 11 percent.

Onetime frontrunner Rick Perry appears to be Texas toast — the poll finds him at 5 percent.

The Florida poll is similar to a national Rasmussen poll released today that finds Cain and Romney tied at 29 percent, Gingrich at 10 percent and Perry at 9 percent.

Click here to read about Romney’s consistent presence at or near the top of GOP polls while other candidates rise and fall.

Browning asks court to scrap federal oversight of Florida election laws

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning today asked a court to do away with federal approval of changes to the state’s elections laws in five counties under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, alleging that the that part of the Act is unconstitutional.

Browning also asked a three-judge federal court panel in Washington to expedite its review of four election law changes approved by lawmakers this spring and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Browning went to the court in July for approval after initially submitting the new laws to the U.S. Department of Justice for “preclearance,” required for under federal law for five counties – Hendry, Collier, Hardee, Hillsborough and Monroe – with a history of racial discrimination against voters.

The federal law covers the Florida counties as well as six other southern states – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia – Alaska, and counties in North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, and Idaho.

Under changes to the Voting Rights Act approved by Congress in 1972, the preclearance is required for jurisdictions in which at the time less than 50 percent of the voting-age citizens were registered to vote or voted in the presidential election, had a non-English-speaking population of more than five percent, and provided voting materials only in English.

“I am hopeful the federal court will come to a quick resolution and approve the remaining provisions of our preclearance submission as nondiscriminatory,” Browning said in a statement. “However, I am frustrated that the reason we are still waiting to implement Florida law in five counties is because of an arbitrary and irrational coverage formula based on data from 40 years ago that takes no account of current conditions.”

All changes to the state’s new elections laws must be approved by the Justice Department or by a federal court, a rare move according to elections experts.

Browning asked the court to rule on the new elections laws before the end of the year. If not, that could pose problems for Floridians voting in the GOP primary now slated for Jan. 31 because the five counties would not be operating under the same laws as the rest of the state. State law requires that voting laws be uniform statewide.

Instead of getting federal approval for the four most controversial portions of the state’s new elections laws, Browning went to court, making U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a defendant in the case.

Florida is one of more than a dozen states that passed elections laws this spring that critics object are aimed at keeping low-income, minority and college-student voters – who typically vote for Democrats and helped President Obama win the 2008 presidential election – away from the polls.

The ACLU and others are challenging the new elections laws in federal court in Miami.

Obama visits Orlando Tuesday to raise money, promote jobs bill

Monday, October 10th, 2011 by George Bennett


President Obama — who currently has a higher disapproval rating in Florida than popularity-challenged Gov. Rick Scott — will stop in Orlando Tuesday for a pair of fundraising events.

He’ll also reportedly meet with unemployed construction workers to discuss the American Jobs Act.

Obama will attend one money event at a downtown Orlando hotel, then head to a second fundraiser at the home of attorney John Morgan — whose firm recently hired former Gov. Charlie Crist.

The host committee for Morgan’s event includes NBA veteran Grant Hill, basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and former baseball great Ken Griffey Jr.

Former Sen. Mel Martinez endorses Mitt Romney

Monday, October 10th, 2011 by George Bennett


Former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez is endorsing Mitt Romney in the crowded GOP presidential race.

As a sitting U.S. Senator four years ago, Martinez’ endorsement of John McCain a few days before the 2008 Florida primary helped McCain edge Romney and effectively clinch the Republican nomination. Martinez and McCain were cosponsors of immigration reform legislation that many in the GOP criticized as “amnesty.” Romney has emphasized a tough-on-illegals immigration stance in his 2012 campaign and blasted rival Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition benefits in Texas for the children of illegal immigrants.

Says Martinez in a statement released by the Romney campaign this morning: “I have great confidence that Mitt Romney is the candidate to get our country back on track. Unemployment remains a pressing issue both in Florida and across the nation. Now more than ever, we need a leader who will get our country’s fiscal house in order. From his experience in the private sector, Mitt Romney understands how the real economy works and how jobs are created. As Governor of Massachusetts, he balanced the budget without raising taxes. I am proud to support him.”

In Florida’s campaign organizational primary, Romney and Perry are clear leaders

Thursday, October 6th, 2011 by George Bennett

Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Rick Perry made new Florida endorsement and organizational announcements this morning as they continued to distance themselves from the rest of the GOP field in ground-game measures in the Sunshine State.

(A cautionary historical note: Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson had the most conspicuous Florida organizations at this stage of the 2008 campaign before John McCain‘s seat-of-the-pants Florida operation won the primary.)

Romney, who announced key Florida staffers last week, today announced endorsements from two former co-chairs of Tim Pawlenty‘s campaign: political webmaster and former Jeb Bush speechwriter Justin Sayfie and GOP operative and former Bush aide Slater Bayliss.

Perry this morning announced seven Florida field staffers. Read about them after the jump….


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