Florida Five: Ted Cruz headlines Fla. fundraiser, Checkbooks tapped as Tallahassee fundraising heats up

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

ted cruz
Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom via The Foundry

Ted Cruz heads to Bush, Rubio territory for Florida fundraiser – Ted Cruz will head to Florida later this month to headline a local Republican fundraising dinner, a trip that will put him in front of the Republican voters more familiar with two of Cruz’s likely competitors in 2016: His Senate colleague Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Cruz will keynote the Duval County Lincoln Day Dinner in Jacksonville on Feb. 20, billed as a “huge event” that raises money for the county GOP. Tickets range from $120 for an individual seat to $25,000 to serve as an event sponsor. Read more

Louisiana ‘stranger’ the most powerful unelected person in Florida politics – The most powerful, unelected person in state government is a stranger to most Floridians, and that’s exactly the way Melissa Sellers wants it. Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff is a 32-year-old practitioner of brass-knuckled politics who gets wide leeway. A Florida newcomer with limited knowledge of the state’s political culture and history, she managed the governor’s $100 million-plus re-election campaign and steered him out of a double-digit deficit in the polls. Read more

Get your checkbooks ready for several political fundraisers this week – Whip out the checkbooks, PAC chairs and Tallahassee lobbyists, for this week begets a handful of fundraisers for legislative candidates. Since state law prohibits legislators from raising money during session, every week leading up to March 3 gaveling in of the annual lawmaking period will be packed with fundraising receptions. A number of them are conveniently just a few hundred feet from the Capitol offices. Read more

Florida might follow Tenn.’s lead – Florida remains as one of 22 states that have opted not to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. And a vote in the Tennessee Legislature does not bode well for Florida changing its direction on the federal-state health care program for the poor and disabled. A Tennessee legislative committee killed Gov. Bill Haslam’s plan to expand Medicaid to cover some 280,000 low-income residents. The vote there Wednesday was significant because Tennessee, like Florida, is state where conservative Republicans hold the governor’s office as well as the legislative leadership. Read more

Millions in taxpayer incentives later, Office Depot leaving business-friendly Florida – Office Depot is packing up its corporate bags and shipping out of the Sunshine State, but not before scoring millions in state and local taxpayer incentives. The Boca Raton business giant announced Wednesday that Staples Inc., its chief office supplies competitor, is buying the Fortune 300 company and moving its South Florida corporate headquarters out of the state. It’s unclear exactly what the future holds for its 2,000-plus employees. Read more

Viral: Pop star shark shoot: Rihanna swims with shark in epic Florida shoot (Photo)

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