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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.10.18

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Joe Henderson, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Politics seems so trivial in times like the Panhandle is about to experience with Hurricane Michael. Petty red and blue arguments are out of place when a storm like this threatens everything and everyone in its path.

If you’re a Democrat and intend to vote with vigor for Bill Nelson to the U.S. Senate, you still should be rooting for his election opponent, Republican Governor Rick Scott, to carefully and successfully manage this horrible situation in the days ahead.

Florida’s Gulf Coast prepares for Hurricane Michael. (Image via The Washington Post)

Same goes for Republicans who support Ron DeSantis for Governor. I sure hope they’re wishing for his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, to be a steady and effective leader in this crisis. If it costs your man a few votes, at least you can be consoled by the fact it also might have saved some lives.

Only the most cynical and selfish person would think otherwise.

There is an appropriate time to question how leaders stepped up during a storm like this, but for the next few everyone just needs to be a Floridian. Think we’re up to it?

We hope we are.

But here is a reality: Hurricane Michael likely will cause catastrophic damage, and that can’t be fixed overnight. When Hurricane Irma blew through Tampa last year, some people went many days without power. There were flooded streets. Fallen trees and large limbs blocked some roads and it took a while to get them all clear.

Grocery stores had near-empty shelves for many days after the storm.

But as Floridians, we had each other and that’s how we got through it all — well, that, peanut butter, Chunky soup and the stockpile you safely stashed away from the local ABC store.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@realDonaldTrump: Hurricane on its way to the Florida Pan Handle with major elements arriving tomorrow. Could also hit, in later stage, parts of Georgia, and unfortunately North Carolina, and South Carolina, again … … Looks to be a Cat. 3 which is even more intense than Florence. Good news is, the folks in the Pan Handle can take care of anything. @fema and First Responders are ready — be prepared!

@MarcoRubio: .@nikkihaley was a strong voice for the U.S. & for moral clarity at the U.N. America was blessed to have her representing us. We thank her & her family for their service to our country & the cause of freedom & #HumanRights.

@Pcola_EddieT: hey @jack — thanks for the @twitter platform, can you do us all a favor? When an area is about to be impacted by a huge storm, can you disable the jumbled chronological tweet algorithm? Its frustrating seeing 18/22hr old tweets on #HuuricaneMichael coordinates

@RT_Dailey: most everywhere I’ve been last 2 days, gas stations, stores, etc. — almost without fail hear people saying “stay safe,’ ‘take care of yourself’ etc. to total strangers. Tallahassee is awesome and we got this

@JLG0103: First time leaving for a hurricane feels odd. Taking the kids and dog to Orlando for the rest of the week. Angela staying behind to work the EOC. Wishing everyone in #Tallahassee stays safe.

@RadioRicko: The last time a hurricane hit Tallahassee one of my hives lost it’s top and the bees were soaked. Not this time. Give it your best shot, Michael.

—@PatriciaMazzei: TFW the luggage attendant does a double-take at your boarding pass and asks, “Wait — isn’t that where the hurricane is going?”

—@Doug_Hanks: So today, Miami-Dade’s @MDCElections mailed out its first big batch of mail-in ballots for Nov. About 309,000 of them. That’s about 20% higher than the 257,000 ballots mailed out 10/11 in the first big batch of 2016 during the PRESIDENTIAL election.

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

— DAYS UNTIL —

MLB World Series begins — 13; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 14; Early voting begins — 17; Halloween — 21; General Election Day — 27; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 38; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 41; Thanksgiving — 43; Black Friday — 44; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 48; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 62; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 125; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 146; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 149; 2020 General Election — 755.

— STORM NOTES —

Rick Scott on Hurricane Michael: ‘Devastating storm … going to be historic’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Hurricane Michael is going to be “devastating” for north Florida, Gov. Scott said at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “It’s going to be historic,” he said at an 8 a.m. press briefing, mentioning that the first effects will begin in about 12 hours. The “massive storm … could bring devastation” to the Florida Panhandle, with 110 mph winds expected in coastal communities, and 75 mph winds in Tallahassee. It’s on track to be the “most destructive storm” to rake the Panhandle and Big Bend region in years, he added.

Rick Scott gives an update on Hurricane Michael from the State Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning.

Tallahassee braces for strongest storm ‘since 1894’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Emergency officials in Leon County are predicting Hurricane Michael will be the “strongest” and “most extreme” storm in decades to hit Florida’s capital city. Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee, county Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters said Hurricane Michael is nearly a Category 3 storm. He anticipates it will make landfall at that strength on Wednesday somewhere near Panama City. “Hurricane Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit our area of Florida since 1894,” said Peters.

Utilities, state prepare for hurricane strike” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — As rains from the powerful storm started to reach the Panhandle, about 15,000 workers lined up by Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light and public utilities have been positioned to respond to anticipated widespread outages. The companies and the Florida Municipal Electric Association also reported having at least 2,000 more workers from companies throughout the South and as far away as Texas, Nebraska and Indiana. “We train year-round for these types of scenarios,” Gulf Power spokesman Gordon Paulus said in a statement. “That training and developing of skills has really paid off in helping us quickly and safely get our customers’ power back on.”

Duke expects 100,000 to 200,000 customers to lose power” via the News Service of Florida — The utility said it based the estimate on a storm-modeling tool that takes into account factors such as wind speed and the magnitude of the storm. “Duke Energy anticipates significant, widespread power outages, particularly along the coastline of the company’s service area due to storm surge,” the company said in a news release. “Historical data and company experience indicate complete restoration from a storm of this magnitude could take multiple days to over a week — depending on the extent of actual damage, crews’ ability to access remote areas and islands, and conditions following the storm, such as flooding.”

Power companies sending repair crews before Hurricane Michael hits Tallahassee” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than 1,000 utility workers from out of town and other states, as far away as Texas, are on tap to sweep into Tallahassee to help restore power after Hurricane Michael pushes through with possible 100 mph winds and heavy rains. What’s unusual is that 125 of them will be stationed before the hurricane hits within the cone of uncertainty, right here in Tallahassee. “We have mutual agreements that are also signed … with both private and public utilities,” Mayor Gillum said in a news briefing. He said the city received commitments from 13 mutual aid partners. “Mutual aid agreements are first and foremost the most critical.”

FHP troopers from Orlando preparing Tuesday to head to the Panhandle to help residents in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

Food and ice will be available for storm victims via Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is assembling three chainsaw strike teams to begin debris cleanup following the Hurricane Michael. The department is also preparing a team to mobilize for urban search and rescue operations. In anticipation of widespread power outages, the department will have on hand 20-25 truckloads of ice and 500,000 meals for people in shelters. These preparations are in addition to already planned services like opening shelters and issuing evacuation orders.

In email, Florida emergency management chief slams local storm prep” via Matt Dixon and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott’s emergency management chief sent a blistering email late Monday night about the pace at which local Panhandle officials have been preparing for Hurricane Michael, a storm expected to bring punishing conditions to the region. “We have known for days that, regardless of size, we would see a significant storm impact in the Florida Panhandle and big ben,” Department of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul wrote in an email to local and emergency management officials. “Yet, here we sit at 10 p.m., less than 24 hours from storm force winds in advance of a major hurricane and with little to no sheltering and evacuation operations yet to begun.” Maul was also critical of local officials not beginning “life safety operations” until Tuesday afternoon.

Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul slams the Panhandle for a slack in preparation. 

Airbnb activates ‘open homes’ program to assist hurricane evacuees” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Airbnb is opening its ‘Open Homes’ program Tuesday, encouraging its property hosts in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Central Florida to take in Panhandle evacuees from Hurricane Michael at no charge. The program, which Airbnb has run in past hurricanes including Harvey, Irma, and Maria last year, provides the vacation rental homes as temporary accommodations free of charge to both evacuees and emergency workers responding for recovery efforts. The participating vacation rental-home owners, the hosts, join the effort voluntarily, at the company’s encouragement, and the marketing company lists them as Open Homes evacuation sites.

Hurricane Michael brings fight over voter registration deadline extension” via Ana Ceballos of USA TODAY — Gov. Scott‘s administration authorized extending Tuesday’s voter registration deadline in counties that closed election offices because of the storm to one day after offices are able to reopen. But hours later, Florida Democrats filed an emergency injunction asking a judge to extend the deadline by at least one week. Democrats want the state to extend the deadline to Oct. 16. “The Florida Department of State is committed to ensuring that all eligible Floridians are able to register to vote, including those Floridians who may be impacted by Hurricane Michael,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote in a memorandum distributed late Monday night.

Warning: Hurricane Michael may bring AOB scammers in its wake” via Florida Politics — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis activated his Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team to “get ahead of” and post-storm fraud. He also activated seven out of eight of the state’s firefighting and search and rescue teams as Michael approached landfall. The Consumer Protection Coalition, comprising insurers and other business interests organized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, directed home and auto policyholders to its website to view ads warning against AOB agreements. These are contracts whereby a policyholder assigns the right to enforce a policy to a contractor before beginning repairs. Critics, including the coalition, argue that unscrupulous contractors can inflate restoration costs, forcing litigation with insurance companies that drive up insurance premiums.

Florida county jokingly ‘warns’ forecaster to stay away” via The Associated Press — The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office posted a tongue-in-cheek trespass warning on Facebook for The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore. Cantore is usually on the scene of major storms. The office wrote: “Everyone knows what’s in store when Jim Cantore shows up. So, we issued a little notice. lol.” The “warning” provides special conditions for “non-business-related visits only,” preferably during the winter.

Stay away, Jim Cantore.

— THE LATEST —

 Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.

Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.

At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.

Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

As Hurricane Michael bears down on Tallahassee, eyes are on Andrew Gillum” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The storm is a reminder that the city’s mayor is mostly a figurehead, with no real management powers, like his colleagues on the city council. When asked what his responsibilities were this week, he said he’s been giving updates to Gov. Scott and meeting regularly with the city manager and giving advice. “He and I are hand-in-glove in this, as we have been in previous storms,” Gillum said of his relationship with the city manager. But he’s also “being the best messenger that we can, as an elected official that has the trust of people in our community to communicate directly to citizens what we need them to do,” Gillum said.

While Mayors are mostly a figurehead during weather events, Andrew Gillum’s role in Hurricane Michael is to give updates, talk preparation.

’Don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city’: Gillum pushes back against Donald Trump” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gillum took to Twitter to respond to vague criticisms offered by Trump earlier in the day at a stop in Orlando. “Don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city while we are preparing for a Category 3 hurricane,” Gillum wrote in a tweet addressed to Trump. “We need a partner right now, not a partisan.” Gillum was referencing comments made by Trump during an exclusive interview with WFTV’s Christopher Heath following the president’s remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention. “[DeSantis’] opponent runs a place that has a lot of problems and I know it very well, but it’s got a lot of problems, tremendous corruption, tremendous crime,” Trump told Heath.

Michael Bloomberg, DGA boost Gillum’s fundraising” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gillum raised more than $3.3 million through his political committee last week, receiving hefty support from former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, the Democratic Governors Association and wealthy Democratic donors. Bloomberg, who visited the Sunshine State over the weekend while reportedly exploring a 2020 presidential bid, cut a $250,000 check for Gillum’s committee, Forward Florida.Other big-ticket donations came from Democratic donor Marsha Laufer, of Manalapan, who chipped in $500,000, and the Barbara Stiefel Trust, which wrote a $100,000 check for the Tallahassee Mayor’s gubernatorial bid. The Democratic Governors Association chipped in $1 million, bringing its total investment in Gillum so far to $4 million.

DeSantis continues campaign for governor as Hurricane Michael looms” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis told about four dozen supporters standing in the steamy parking lot of the hotel next door to the University of South Florida that holding a rally would not be “as appropriate.” But that doesn’t mean he put politics on hold: DeSantis added that sentiment at the end of a stump speech that included some not-so-veiled shots at Gillum. The events reflected a storm-related reality for DeSantis: While Gillum preps for a hurricane expected to wallop Tallahassee — and getting plenty of media coverage in the process — DeSantis has no official duties. He resigned from his northeast Florida Congressional seat last month to focus on the campaign. Tuesday’s Tampa event, and two more like them scheduled for tomorrow in Orlando and Jacksonville, were a way to try keep the momentum going. They’re being billed as “Emergency Supply Drop Off at Ron DeSantis Regional Events.”

Without any official role in Hurricane Michael response. Ron DeSantis campaigns by pitching in.

Tim Baker joins DeSantis campaign” via Florida Politics — With four weeks before the primary, Republican Gubernatorial nominee DeSantis brought on yet another seasoned hand for his campaign’s stretch run. Tim Baker joined the campaign in a senior leadership role, offering strategic and political guidance. Baker, one of a series of staff moves in DeSantis World that included bringing on another op with a Jacksonville portfolio in campaign manager Susie Wiles, asserted that the campaign is “starting to hit stride” and “we are all working like crazy.” This is a full-circle move for Baker, who worked on DeSantis’ first campaign for Congress in 2012.

— SCOTT VS. NELSON —

New Democratic ad hits Scott on education cuts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new television commercial by the Democrats’ Senate Majority Political Action Committee, “Cuts,” focuses on the $1.3 billion that Florida cut from the state’s education budget during the first two years of Scott’s administration, as he and the Florida Legislature focused on budget and tax cuts as their strategy to address the Great Recession still miring Florida in 2011-’12. “He promised us …” a narrator begins. It then quotes an Scott declaring, “Zero cuts out of state general revenue for education … But it wasn’t true.” The commercial then goes to clips of students, schools and teachers as the narrator reminds viewers of the $1.3 billion in education cuts and the tax cuts “to corporations,” and then goes into detail: “Scott cut $20 million from pre-K. Slashed Bright Futures scholarships. And over a thousand teaching jobs … gone. Today Florida’s schools have fallen to 40th in the nation.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Donald Trump praises Scott, bashes Bill Nelson over EAA reservoir” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — In a tweet, Trump said he supported a plan to design and construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that aims to reduce algae blooms in coastal Florida communities, also taking an opportunity to praise Scott for the project. The Senate is scheduled to make a final vote on the Water Resources Development Act, a major water infrastructure package, no later than Thursday. The president also took an opportunity to bash Florida’s Democratic Sen. Nelson, saying he’s been “no help” on the project. “The president should know better than to play politics in the senate race on behalf of Rick Scott when there’s a dangerous storm taking aim at Florida’s Panhandle,” said Dan McLaughlin, Nelson’s campaign spokesman, referring to the category 3 Hurricane Michael expected to make landfall in Florida.

FiveThirtyEight says Nelson’s re-election odds on the upswing” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A month after claiming Nelson was the most vulnerable incumbent nationwide, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight says his odds of defeating Gov. Scott are improving. Based on polls alone, the political forecasting website currently lists the third-term Democrat with a 57 percent chance of earning another six years in Washington. He fares a little better in the site’s “Classic” model, which accounts for x factors such as incumbency, fundraising and historical trends. Despite the improved odds, the vote tally is expected to be as close as ever: FiveThirtyEight currently predicts Nelson will take 50.5 percent of the vote on Election Day while Scott, a Republican, will get a 49.5 percent share. … When it comes to national Democrats’ chances of flipping the Senate, however, FiveThirtyEight says that possibility is rapidly waning.

— VOTE NOTES  —

Progressive group says it signed up 50,000 new young voters in Florida” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — NextGen America, founded by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, invested $3.5 million in the state to register thousands of young people in time for the November election. The group had spent more than $32 million nationwide, including 10 other states such as Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Iowa, and said it registered more than 236,000 voters across the country. “We are tremendously proud of the fact that we’ve registered over 50,000 voters this election cycle,” NextGen Florida Youth Director Carly Cass said in a statement. “But our work isn’t done yet. From now until November 6, we’re going to remind voters that they have the power to move the needle on issues like affordable health care, racial justice and climate change.”

Tom Steyer is touting 50K new young Florida voters registered.

In the eye of another storm — this one over voting in Florida” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Two controversies erupted at once Tuesday, one over a state online voter registration system and the other involving the storm’s disruption of the last day that Florida residents could become eligible voters in 2018. Complaints multiplied from people who say the state’s online registration portal was not working. The portal, which was a year old on Oct. 1, has had glitches before, but never this close to a voter registration deadline, and it prompted threats of legal action. “It’s extremely troubling. This is one moment where the states’ online systems need to operate,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Dems sue to extend voter registration” via Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to extend the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline by one week in areas to be affected by Hurricane Michael. While Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already extended the deadline by a day via Directive 2018-03, that’s not enough for the FDP, which says this “’solution’ is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote by the October 9 registration deadline. Voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Michael. Voters attempting to register online may face internet outages due to the storm.”

’A mess’: Florida’s online voter-registration system panned” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — As a hurricane threatened Florida, Gov. Scott balked at extending Tuesday’s voter registration deadline for a week as Democrats want, in part because the state has an online system to sign up new voters. But thousands of Floridians have told some elections supervisors in recent days that the system isn’t working — despite claims from the state that the problems had been fixed and that the effort has been “immensely successful.” “A mess!” Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher told POLITICO by email. Florida Democrats are suing Scott’s secretary of state, Detzner, in federal court to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline for at least a week due to the approach of Hurricane Michael. “We have had hundreds of complaints about the system being down or intermittent all weekend. On 10/6/18 we only received 1 online voter registration, which is highly unusual as we usually get hundreds,” Bucher said. “We have lines in our office and have fielded more than 1,500 calls this morning which is an unusually high volume.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Nancy Soderberg, Michael Waltz statistically tied in CD 6” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Democrat Soderberg and Republican Waltz are tied in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District according to a new poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The poll, conducted Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, found both candidates pulling 45 percent among voters in CD 6 … GQR’s prior measure of the race found Waltz had a 2-point lead with only 7 percent of voters undecided. … “Waltz is failing to motivate his own base, earning just 75 percent of the vote among registered Republicans. Soderberg receives 82 percent of the vote among registered Democrats,” the polling memo says. … CD 6 covers parts of St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Trump won CD 6 by 17 points two years ago.

Nancy Soderberg is basically tied with her Republican rival, Mike Waltz.

Club for Growth poll puts Ross Spano way out front in Kristen Carlson matchup” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A new poll by WPA Intelligence, a Republican polling company, puts Spano 7 points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Carlson, in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Anti-big government group Club for Growth Action commissioned the poll for the district that covers parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties. Spano scored a 56 percent name ID from survey respondents and among those who offered their opinion on the Dover state Representative, he scored a plus-14 in favorability. Carlson scored 25 percent in the name ID portion of the survey and had a plus-6 favorability rating among the 16 percent of voters who shared their opinion. The poll also asked respondents how they would vote in a generic election between a Republican and a Democrat and the GOP came out on top by 4 points, 48-44 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

New David Shapiro ad goes after Vern Buchanan — and Nancy Pelosi; Republicans scoff” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The advertisement, titled “Build,” features Shapiro inspecting the rotting foundation of an old, dilapidated home, then compares the weak structure to leadership failures in Congress. “My father built houses. He’d tell me, if the foundation is weak, you have to tear the whole thing down,” Shapiro says in the ad. “And now, gridlock and partisanship are making Washington weak. We need change. Politicians like Vern Buchanan and Nancy Pelosi have to go.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Personnel note: Allen Ellison announces campaign team” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ellison, the replacement Democratic nominee in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, announced a campaign team led by campaign manager Daniel Sohn, Haverhill Town CouncilmanEllison said the team boasts experience working on campaign teams for presidential candidates Barack Obama, John Kerry and Martin O’Malley. Aisha Alayande, executive director of Drug-Free Highlands, will serve as scheduling director. Anthony Dowling, an Indiantown Village Councilman, serves as deputy political director and communications director. Samantha Gholar, a former journalist and founder of Emerge Sarasota, will be deputy communications director under Dowling. Kelvin Lindsey, a Bowling Green agent for FEMA and Bobby Norfleet Racing, will be campaign strategist.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell nabs $1.6M in latest fundraising period” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Mucarsel-Powell campaign says the third quarter has been kind to the candidate, with $1.6 million in new donations pouring into the Democrat’s coffers. Mucarsel-Powell is attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The campaign says it received contributions from more than 70,000 unique donors. Numbers from the Curbelo campaign were not yet available on the Federal Election Commission‘s website. Mucarsel-Powell came out ahead of Curbelo in the previous fundraising period, topping his numbers by more than $60,000.

Donna Shalala ad hits opponent over previous Trump praise” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new Spanish language ad from Shalala is going after her opponent in Florida’s 27th Congressional District over previous tweets praising President Trump. Former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar earned the Republican nomination in the heavily Hispanic district back in August. Now, Shalala is attempting to tie her to the President in a new ad titled, “The Trump Cheerleader.” “Maria Elvira Salazar: Trump’s greatest cheerleader,” the ad’s narrator begins. “Praising him …” That’s when a woman’s voice, imagined to be that of Salazar, pops in reading out her tweet to Trump. “Bravo, Trump!”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Florida Republicans begin replacement process for Dorothy Hukill” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday informed the Florida Department of State that it was beginning the process of selecting Hukill’s replacement ahead of the November election for Senate District 14. … “It is with great sadness I inform you that due to the passing of Senator Dorothy Hukill, there now exists a vacancy in the nomination for the Republican Party in the 2018 General Election for the Florida Senate District 14 race,” RPOF Chair Blaise Ingoglia wrote. “ … The Republican Party of Florida will begin the process of designating a nominee for the District 14 race as outlined in section 100.111, Florida Statutes, and our internal party rules.” … Under state law, candidate vacancies after the primary elections have taken place “are required to be filled by committee nominations.” The law also states that ballots shall not be changed, with any vote for the prior nominee counting for the replacement.

Legislative Black Caucus clarifies it has not endorsed Shawn Harrison” via Florida Politics — Harrison’s re-election campaign has been sending out a direct mail piece showing him alongside members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, and the group said it wants to make it clear that it has not endorsed the Tampa Republican. Topping the bullet points on the mailer is that the HD 63 Republican “stood with the Black Caucus to take out the Marshall Program from the School Safety Bill.” Despite aligning with caucus members on some issues, FLBC Chairman and state Rep. Bruce Antone, an Orlando Democrat, said the mailer could give recipients the wrong impression. “The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office. Representative Harrison’s campaign mailer, which used a photo of members of the Black Caucus standing behind him as he presented a bill, is misleading and implies he has been endorsed by the Black Caucus,” Antone said.

— STATEWIDE —

Panel to consider Florida Supreme Court hopefuls” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission received the applications for seats that will be vacated when justices Barbara ParienteR. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince step down in January because of a mandatory retirement age. The commission will use the Thursday conference call to decide which applicants will be interviewed. The commission next month will submit names of potential justices to the governor. Lawyers applying for the seats include numerous appellate and circuit judges from across the state.

Justices reject putting cross case on fast track” via the News Service of Florida — The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the city of Pensacola to speed up consideration of a case about the removal of a decades-old cross from a city park. The city appealed to the Supreme Court last month after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross in Bayview Park should be removed because it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the cross, saying its presence on public property was unconstitutional. In addition to appealing last month to the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for the city also requested that justices “expedite” consideration of whether to hear the case.

A federal judge has ordered that the city of Pensacola must remove the Bayview Park Cross.

Seminole County approves deal with Airbnb to collect bed tax” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — The 5-percent tax has long been added to the bill of guests staying at Seminole hotels and resorts. However, county officials said they were concerned about the loss of tax revenue when visitors use home-sharing sites, such as Airbnb, rather than hotels, thereby skirting the tax. “Everyone is doing that inadvertently,” Commissioner Bob Dallari said. “People don’t know that” they’re not paying the tax.” He added that Airbnb should have the same standards as other types of lodging.

Martin County nixes fertilizer ban extension” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm — County commissioners rejected an extension of the summer fertilizer ban. Following staff recommendations, they instead unanimously approved an increased education campaign about the environmental risks of nitrogen-based fertilizer. Commissioners made their decision after about an hour of discussion and a presentation during which county staff members said increasing the ban from four months to six months — as other Martin County municipalities have done — actually could be harmful to the environment.

Florida gas prices are nearly 30 cents higher than this time last year” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Gas in Florida averaged $2.82 per gallon Monday, holding steady from last week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay prices were $2.77 per gallon Monday, down three cents over the week. Nationally, gas stood at $2.91 per gallon. The spike comes courtesy of the highest crude oil prices since 2014. Barrels of crude oil were $76.41 each as of Oct. 3, the highest since November, AAA said. Hurricane Michael is not expected to impact gas prices where supply is concerned, as the storm’s path did not directly threaten any Gulf Coast refineries and oil drilling rigs, AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.

Gainesville city commissioners offer tentative support of half-cent schools tax referendum” via Madison Spector of WUFT — The half-cent sales tax will be a referendum on the ballot this upcoming November. The focus of the tax is to modernize and revitalize public schools around Alachua County. If it passes, it will produce about $22 million over the next 12 years starting in January. Six of the seven commissioners were present for the meeting, and all gave their support for the proposal. Mayor Lauren Poe has previously stated his support for it but was absent from the meeting. Commissioner Gail Johnson was concerned about the makeup of a committee overseeing how the $22 million would be spent. “The piece of this that concerns me is that we have not talked about what that oversight committee … who’s on that, who’s choosing the people that are on that,” she said. “That’s a big question mark and ‘what if’ for me that sometimes can be a red flag when deciding how large pots of money are going to be spent.”

Jury awards $25M to parents of woman killed by garbage truck” via Daniel Smithson of the Gainesville Sun — An Alachua County jury awarded the parents of Abigail Dougherty, the 20-year-old University of Florida student who was run over and killed by a Waste Corporation of America garbage truck nearly two years ago, $25 million in damages. The 20-year-old’s father, Pat Dougherty, and mother, Anita Forester, were awarded $12.5 million each in damages for mental pain and suffering. In October 2016, Dougherty, who was heavily involved in community service, was riding a bike south on Northwest 17th Street, attempting to cross West University Avenue when the garbage truck ran over her while attempting to turn right onto University Avenue, police said. The complaint said the truck’s driver, Charles Danzy, was negligent in not yielding the right of way to Dougherty before making his turn, by not using his turn signal, and failing to check for traffic, among other claims.

UCF student reluctantly becomes #HimToo sensation” via David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel — What does Pieter Hanson have in common with Donald Trump Jr., Jesus Christ, the Bubble Boy and a heavily-armed goat? Nothing! That’s what the UCF student wants the world to know after he was inadvertently sucked into the Brett Kavanaugh War. It all revolves the Twitter hashtag #HimToo, which sprouted as a response to #IBelieveDrFord. Its goal is to publicize that men are sometimes falsely accused of sexual assault and accusers can be lying. That apparently was the point Hanson’s mother was trying to make when she posted a photo of him in his old Navy uniform and wrote: “This is MY son. He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an ax to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.” It took Twitter about five seconds to pounce. Hundreds of memes soon appeared with mocking variations of the message featuring movie characters, politicians, animals and SpongeBob SquarePants.

The #HimToo tweet that started it all.

— OPINIONS —

Rabbis Steven Engel, Jack Romberg: take anti-Semitism out of Florida politics” via Florida Politics — Are politics in Florida truly descending to the lowest level? We ask that because of articles appearing around Florida in which the DeSantis campaign accuses Mayor Gillum of being anti-Israel, and Chris King along with Gillum of being anti-Semitic. As rabbis of two major Jewish communities in Florida, we object to any campaign using the politics of fear to influence our people. Just as important as supporting policies regarding Israel, Gillum’s has shown strong support for Tallahassee’s Jewish community. Here is one example — Temple Israel’s largest fundraising event is our annual Jewish Food and Cultural Festival. As both a Commissioner and Mayor, Gillum has volunteered numerous times to work at the festival. He never wanted to be the center of publicity or attention, but simply worked alongside a group of our congregants, making and serving sandwiches. I, Rabbi Engel, through my interfaith work, and on a personal level, I know Chris King. He and I also have many mutual friends who we are both very close to. It is antithetical to everything I have heard Chris say and do, in public and private, to think that he is anti-Semitic.

— MOVEMENTS —

Rhea Law to step down as chair of Buchanan’s Florida offices” via Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Law, shareholder and chair of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Florida offices, will leave her position at the end of 2018, but will remain with the firm in an “of counsel” role. Carl Joseph Coleman will take over as chair of the Florida offices. He has been the head of Buchanan’s Fort Myers office and will relocate. He has chaired the firm’s Florida litigation practice and has been practicing law for nearly 32 years. Law is a prominent and respected business leader in the Tampa Bay area. “This is all self-motivated,” she told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “I never really intended to practice law my entire life.”

Reah Law, shown with former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney CEO Jack Barbour, is seeking new challenges.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: SR II

Chris Spencer, GrayRobinson: Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists

— ALOE —

What Universal has in store for New Year’s Eve” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Universal will be bringing back its adults-only EVE at Universal CityWalk celebration beginning at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31. Standard tickets start at $110 per person and include “an unlimited selection of gourmet dishes,” access to six CityWalk clubs with live bands and DJs and a complimentary champagne toast. VIP tickets with extra perks like private bars and balcony access start at $195 per person. The party will feature Orlando’s own DJ M-Squared, who performs every Saturday at The Groove at CityWalk. For those below the age of 21 holding a Universal park ticket or annual pass, the resort is offering another New Year’s Eve celebration inside Universal Studios Florida. The areas around the park’s Music Plaza Stage and Central Park will become “party zones” with live music and appearances by Universal Orlando characters.

Where are you going to be for New Year’s Eve?

Happy birthday to Dave Mica and Jared Ross.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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