Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics

Peter Schorsch

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.

Searching for the silver linings for Florida Democrats

Last Tuesday’s election results reinforced a political reality many Floridians have had trouble getting their heads around: The Sunshine State is a red state, not a purple one.

It’s been twenty years since Jeb Bush defeated the hapless Buddy McKay as part of the GOP winning the trifecta in state government: control of the Governor’s Office, the House and the Senate.

Other than Barack Obama‘s statewide wins in 2008 and 2012, Alex Sink‘s single term as CFO in 2007-11, and Bill Nelson‘s re-elections, Florida Democrats have been wiped out at the ballot box.

For a few hours last week it appeared possible that, with Nelson losing to Scott and the other results in the gubernatorial and Cabinet races, there would not be an elected statewide Democrat in Florida.

However, the tortuously delayed counting of ballots in Broward and Palm Beach County eventually put Nikki Fried ahead of Matt Caldwell in the Agriculture Commissioner race.

For Democrats, this is more than a consolation prize.

Facing an existential crisis, Florida Democrats have every reason to wring their hands, if not fold up shop. They are the Washington Generals to the GOP’s Harlem Globetrotters, losing, again and again, no matter what the political environment.

The Democrats’ losses this cycle are so bad that it probably has national Democrats strongly considering revising, if not abandoning, their plans to win the state during the 2020 presidential campaign.

With swing states like Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia tilting more to the left, Democrats don’t need Florida to win the presidency, whereas it is almost impossible for a Republican to win the Electoral College without it.

Why waste the time and money on trying to win Florida in 2020 when reallocating those resources to other, more winnable states is a safer proposition?

As the results came in last Tuesday evening, I thought Democrats were ready to abandon Florida going forward. But that analysis now seems premature nearly a week later.

First of all, it’s clear a blue wave did crash throughout the country, albeit not in Florida. As votes continue to be counted, Democrats continue to pick up congressional seats. Democrats also flipped seven governorships, six state legislative chambers, and more than 300 state House and Senate seats.

There have been so many narrative-busting updates to the instant analysis of election night that tomorrow CNN will broadcast “Election Night in America Continued.”

And while that blue wave did not reach Florida’s shores, there are enough silver linings that the Democrats should be able to muster the temerity to ask Lucy to hold the football for them one more time.

Consider:

— Obviously, Fried’s win over Caldwell is the most blatant revision to last Tuesday night’s narrative.

In fact, the Democrats will not be shut out of statewide office. And while losing Nelson is a devastating setback, in the long-run, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise because it creates a leadership vacuum many Democrats will rush to fill (am I the only one looking forward to the second round of Scott vs. Crist in 2024?)

Also, Fried’s winning gives Democrats, particularly those in Tallahassee, someone to rally around. Fried, who earlier this year was working the fourth floor of the Capitol as a lobbyist, is now the most important Democrat in the state. She’ll be expected to headline every Kennedy-King dinner for the next two years. She’ll be the party’s chief fundraiser. She’ll be the Democratic nominee’s point person in 2020. She is the Democrats’ Princess Leia in the rebellion against the Empire.

— Amendment 4’s passage, which provides that many ex-felons should have their voting rights automatically restored once they’ve completed the terms of their sentences, is the biggest game-changer in the modern history of Florida politics. Period.

No, not all of the 1.4 million Floridians who this Amendment impacts will run to the local Supervisor of Elections office and register to vote, but — and only with millions of dollars in voter registration efforts — hundreds of thousands will be able to vote in the 2020 election.

And no, not all of them will automatically vote Democrat, as some would have you believe. But Democrats will pull a plurality of these voters. How many? Dare I say that if something like Amendment 4 had been in place before this election, we’d be talking about the re-election of Sen. Nelson and the upcoming inauguration of Andrew Gillum.

— Amendment 1’s defeat, which would have increased the state’s homestead exemption by $25,000, is a welcome relief to big counties and cities, many of which are the only places Democrats still hold any governing sway.

If there is any bright spot for Florida Democrats postelection, it’s the Florida House, where the donkey picked up as many as seven seats (and are recounting in two more).

Democrats won in different parts of the state with a diverse slate of candidates, cutting into the near-super majority the Republicans once held. Whoever led the Democrats to victory in these races should be given the keys to the party’s headquarters.

Make no mistake, winning the Ag. Commissioner race and a handful of state House seats, while pinning future hopes to the mass registration of ex-felons, is not where Florida Democrats expected to be at the end of 2018. But they, like their national brethren, are undeniably in better shape today than they were a week ago.

There’s just enough fight left in them to soldier on until 2020.

The moments that defined the 2018 race for Florida Governor

Donald Trump brought us to this.

The brutal grind to Tuesday’s general election was more of the same as in the lead-up to the primary election, with Trump still casting a long shadow. 

With early voting turnout setting records, what kind of a referendum on Trumpism will 2018 be in Florida?

All signs, at least as of this moment, point to Andrew Gillum being elected the first black Governor of the Sunshine State.

Moreover, the Florida Cabinet could be split evenly between Democrats and Republicans if Gillum triumphs and Nikki Fried fulfills the promise of the polls to become the next Commissioner of Agriculture. That means Gillum would have at least one other ally on that panel.

But we get ahead of ourselves. Before showtime at 7 a.m. Eastern time, let’s revisit the key moments that defined this year’s race for the Governor’s Mansion:

June 13, 2016: Rubio decides to re-enter U.S. Senate race

After a bruising fight for the GOP nomination for president, Rubio said he wouldn’t go back to trying to get re-elected to his Senate seat. But of course, his senses kicked in, and he did, announcing that decision on June 22. That essentially squeezed out DeSantis, the congressman who very well could win the GOP gubernatorial contest. Rubio went on to crush Scott ally Carlos Beruff in the GOP primary and edge out Democrat Patrick Murphy in the general election. “Gee,” we know some of you thought at the time. “Wonder what DeSantis’ political future holds now?”

Jan. 20, 2017: Donald Trump is inaugurated

The president goes on to become the biggest force in this state’s GOP primary, bar none. His kingmaking ability, which had faltered in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race, works in shovelsful here, as we’ll see.

May 7, 2017: George Soros gets behind Andrew Gillum

Readers of the conservative journal Human Events once voted billionaire financier Soros “the single most destructive leftist demagogue in the country.” Soros, who fled Nazi Germany–occupied Hungary as a youth, also has been described by the Tampa Bay Times as a “liberal mega-donor and bogeyman to conservatives.” He gave $250,000 to Forward Florida, the Gillum-associated political committee, in April. He later went on to pump hundreds of thousands more to Gillum’s electoral benefit.

June 22, 2017: The FBI’s subpoena in a Tallahassee corruption investigation drops

Gillum, the city’s Mayor, never really recovers. “Federal authorities have demanded the city of Tallahassee produce volumes of records related to top local developers behind some of the biggest projects subsidized by the Community Redevelopment Agency,” the Tallahassee Democrat reports at the time. “Among those named in the subpoenas are Adam Corey, developer of the city-backed Edison restaurant in Cascades Park and a former campaign treasurer for Gillum.” It’s bad … but Gillum later says the FBI told him he’s not a target. Still, the association with Corey lingers, and other revelations continue, including a Costa Rica trip.

Dec. 22, 2017: The first Trump tweet for DeSantis

“Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!” … Not quite a full endorsement, but that was simply yet to come.

Feb. 14, 2018: Richard Corcoran, Gillum debate on immigration

The House Speaker, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, and Gillum squared off over the “tired, (the) poor, (the) huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” The debate “was sparked by Corcoran’s anti-sanctuary cities ad and House Bill 9, which is legislation Corcoran is pushing to eliminate sanctuary cities in Florida,” WTXL explained. The event was moderated by Troy Kinsey of BayNews 9 and Gary Fineout of the Associated Press.

June 22, 2018: Trump’s full-throated endorsement of DeSantis.

Tweet: “Congressman Ron DeSantis, a top student at Yale and Harvard Law School, is running for Governor of the Great State of Florida. Ron is strong on Borders, tough on Crime & big on Cutting Taxes — Loves our Military & our Vets. He will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement!” … Whoomp, there it is.

June 28, 2018: The Fox News debate

As the network described it, Putnam and DeSantis “sparred … over their support for President Trump … DeSantis championed his relationship with the president, and Putnam argued he’s more focused on local issues than his opponent … Putnam said in his opening remarks, ‘It’s different than a Washington, D.C., studio. Welcome to Florida, congressman.’ DeSantis played up Trump’s endorsement … ‘I am proud to have the endorsement of President Trump in this race.’ ”

June 29, 2018: Gillum gets ‘NextGen’ support

Gillum gets to boast of the support of a second billionaire after Soros with Tom Steyer‘s NextGen America announcing its “investment” of $1 million into his bid for governor. Mo’ money, indeed.

July 31, 2018: Trump campaigns for DeSantis

The Times tops itself with this lede: “Declaring himself the most popular Republican in the history of America, President Donald Trump revved up thousands of fans Tuesday night at a rowdy Tampa Bay campaign rally to help gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and, above all, celebrate Donald Trump … ‘(W)e need to elect Ron DeSantis … He’s going to be an incredible governor. I have no doubt, no doubt. I don’t do these endorsements easily.’”

Aug. 29, 2018: ‘Monkey this up’

Appearing on Fox News just a day after the Aug. 28 primary, DeSantis declares: “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases, and bankrupting the state.” Democrats swiftly charged the phrase as a racist dog whistle and Fox later that day condemned the use of language. The DeSantis campaign stood by the phrase as a non-racist attack on Gillum’s progressive policies. The ‘monkey this up’ remark would set the stage for a series of racially charged narratives that would in part define the remaining months of the race.

Sept. 6, 2018: DeSantis picks running mate 

After a week of relative seclusion from media, DeSantis breaks silence by announcing his Lieutenant Governor pick: Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, the first female Cuban American LG nominee in the state’s history. While she was seen as a strong option to appeal to female and Hispanic voters, opposition workers — known for their long memories — quickly unearthed her prior criticism of Trump, including a tweet calling Trump “the biggest con-man there is” and charging that he supported the Ku Klux Klan.

Sept. 6, 2018: Gillum embraces base with LG pick

Gillum selects former opponent Chris King, arguably just as progressive as he but not nearly as popular. King, an Orlando businessman, failed to poll above single digits in the primary. But bringing King to join the ticket meant double the progressive trouble. And it served as an early indication that Gillum would not be moving to the center in the coming weeks. (If that were the case, then maybe Gwen Graham — the female moderate who finished points behind Gillum — would’ve gotten a call.)

Sept. 14, 2018: DeSantis picks up anti-racist points 

Former state Rep. Ralph Arza — who had resigned after using racial slurs and threatening a colleague — was tentatively scheduled to co-chair a DeSantis fundraiser. Then he wasn’t. Per POLITICO Florida: “DeSantis’ decision to block former state Rep. Ralph Arza from the post underscored the sensitivity the Republican’s campaign…”

Sept. 18, 2018: Trump smells disobedience

DeSantis’ disagreement with the President’s claim that Hurricane Maria’s death toll was inflated for political purposes didn’t sit well with the big man, who found the distancing “profoundly disloyal,” according to POLITICO. It opened up the possibility that the President would no longer exercise effort to boost DeSantis in the Sunshine State. But ultimately, this wouldn’t keep Trump out of Florida.

Sept. 18, 2018: Gillum shakes off and staffs up 

Gillum names Brandon Davis campaign manager, and cuts ties with some of his primary consultants, including ad firm Putnam Partners and polling group Global Strategy Partners. Pollster John Anzalone, who formerly worked with Gwen Graham, takes over surveying for the Gillum camp. CateComm, headed by  Gillum consultant Kevin Cate, picks up the TV slack.

Sept. 20, 2018: DeSantis loses anti-racist points 

POLITICO Florida reports that a DeSantis donor who padded his candidacy with $20,000 recently called former President Barack Obama a “F—— MUSLIM N—–” on Twitter. DeSantis cuts ties with the donor, Steven M. Alembik, but ultimately does not return the prior donations. Gillum would later use this incident to attack DeSantis during a debate, even spelling out the racial slur on live television.

Sept. 24, 2018: Tallahassee mayoral candidate walks into a trap

Dustin Daniels, who formerly served as Mayor Gillum’s chief of staff, criticizes the city’s crime rate in a mailer for his progressive mayoral bid. Gillum, meanwhile, had been trying to defend his tenure against DeSantis’ criticism. It doesn’t look good when your own political friend plays into your opponent’s narrative.

Sept. 25, 2018: Steyer follows up

How about another $5.2 million and a New York Times headline? Steyer’s NextGen PAC leaks to NYT its plans to provide ground support to Gillum in Florida.

Sept. 26, 2018: So, what about that whole ‘FBI thing’?

POLITICO Florida reports that driving records related to Gillum are tied to an “active criminal investigation” and can’t be released unredacted by the state. “Government agencies frequently cite this statute when any information is redacted,” Barry Richard, an attorney for Gillum charges. Here we go.

Sept. 26, 2018: Survey says ‘Gillum!’ 

The reputable polling outfit at Quinnipiac Univesity pegs Gillum up nine points in the race. At the time, DeSantis is outspending Gillum on television, but his favorability among Floridians is sour at best. “At this point, Gillum’s biggest asset is just that voters like him better,” says pollster Peter A. Brown.

Time for a change.

Sept. 27, 2018: Susie Wiles takes the lead at Team DeSantis  

DeSantis welcomes Wiles, who took over Florida operations for Trump in 2016. The former congressman’s situation mirrors that of Trump when Wiles came aboard: a strong candidate with an operation moving from the base appeal of the primary to finding a way to bring in the swing voters.

Oct. 2, 2018: Polls come back down to earth 

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy pegs the race in dead heat, with Gillum up just a point in a survey with a 3.5 percent margin of error. Brad Coker, the pollster, points to the highly publicized battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s confirmation. “Monday through Thursday, there were lots of Kavanaugh fireworks,” Coker told POLITICO. “If you take the other polls, it could suggest Republicans might be more fired up than Democrats.”

Oct. 10, 2018: Hurricane disrupts everything…

The powerful Category 4 storm swept through the Big Bend and Panhandle regions of North Florida. Tallahassee, while largely spared by the worst of the storm, is hurt. Gillum suspends his campaign to attend to his city. At the state level, concerns over voters in the hardest hit areas prompt Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner to extend the early voting deadline in eight counties.

Oct. 12, 2018: …except anti-Gillum ads

It’s revealed that the Republican Party of Florida failed to cease ads criticizing Gillum’s response to Hurricane Hermine in 2016. POLITICO reports those spots, along with spots attacking the mayor’s link to a two-year-long FBI investigation ran “roughly 30 minutes before the storm made landfall” in Pensacola.

Oct. 16, 2018: DeSantis wins the Everglades

The Everglades Trust backs DeSantis over Gillum, noting DeSantis’ staunch opposition to sugar influence. The endorsement turns the tables on the race, as environmentalists concerned for the River of Grass could consider casting their ballot for the former congressman.

Oct. 21, 2018: Candidates meet for the first time

The nationally televised Sunday evening CNN debate marks the first time DeSantis and Gillum meet face to face. The debate unfolds as expected, with both candidates playing it safe, with only a few notable quips. “If the congressman is elected, which he won’t be, he will worship at the feet of Donald Trump,” Gillum said. From DeSantis: “If you believe with that record that he (Gillum) ain’t gonna raise your taxes, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.”

Oct. 23, 2018: Mischief at the musical? 

Records made public by the Florida Commission on Ethics amid an investigation separate from the FBI’s suggest Gillum may have accepted a ticket to the musical “Hamilton” from an undercover FBI agent posing as an out-of-state developer looking to do business with the city of Tallahassee. Gillum maintains that he assumed the tickets were paid for by Marcus Gillum, his brother. This development also suggests Gillum is more implicated in the FBI investigation, although he’s vehemently said he’s not a target.

Oct. 24, 2018: Racism, ‘Hamilton’ take center stage

In the final meeting of the two candidates, DeSantis harps on the recently unearthed records linking Gillum to the FBI. Gillum shifts the focus to race, bringing up DeSantis’ issues with race that have plagued him throughout his campaign. “Now I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum says. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

Oct. 24, 2018: Racist robocalls

Another batch of racist robocalls hit Florida phones. This time, DeSantis makes a widely publicized point of distancing himself from the calls. Gillum’s campaign strikes back, accusing the former congressman of using “bigotry as a political ploy,” according to POLITICO Florida.

Oct. 31, 2018: The heaviest of hitters come to Florida

President Trump holds a Halloween rally for DeSantis in Fort Myers. Former President Barack Obama rallies alongside Gillum on Friday in Miami. If they weren’t already, now everyone’s watching the Florida race for Governor. Aren’t you?

President Obama to campaign for Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum today

Former President Barack Obama will campaign alongside Florida’s leading Democratic candidates on Friday in Miami at Ice Palace Film Studios.

Obama will join U.S. Sen. Bil Nelson and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democrats’ U.S. Senate and gubernatorial nominees, for a rally sure to demonstrate the former President’s continuing popularity among the base.

That means the biggest of the political big stars are aligning over Florida in the closing week. The Republicans are bringing in President Donald Trump for a rally Saturday in Pensacola. The Democrats bringing in Obama Friday, following former Vice President Joe Biden and California’s U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, two potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, who campaigned for the Democrats last week.

The Ice Palace Film Studios is an events venue dating to 1923 in the heart of Miami with a capacity of 10,000 people. Details of the Obama rally are forthcoming. It comes at the moment when Florida’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races are, as expected, almost air-tight, with polls showing either dead heats or Nelson and Gillum with slight leads over their Republican rivals, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Obama first hit the 2018 campaign trail on behalf of Democrats this weekend in the Midwest.

“Barack Obama has been my friend since I first introduced him to Florida in 2005, when he was a rising political star,” Nelson declared in a news release issued Monday by the Florida Democratic Party. “I cast a key vote in support of his health care reforms, and he and I fought for public schools and protecting Florida’s unique and treasured environment.”

“I’m proud and humbled to have President Obama, my friend and a true patriot, on the campaign trail here in Florida,” said Gillum. “President Obama knows what’s at stake in this election — protections for people with pre-existing conditions, funding for public schools, and leadership to restore our environment. With President Obama’s help, we’re going to bring it home for Florida this November.”

And FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo said, “We are honored to welcome President Obama to Florida to help us get out the vote in the final days of the election. President Obama’s support of Sen. Nelson, Mayor Gillum and Democrats up-and-down the ballot will be crucial to ensuring victory on Nov. 6.”

Fox and Shaw

Sean Shaw’s anti-special interest ad features some curious casting

Normally, the extras flanking politicians in TV ads are about as memorable as the stock photo models on direct mailers. They flitter across your eyeballs for a second, before getting tossed into the orange bin in the garage.

Sometimes they’re dressed up as tradesmen, construction workers, college students or, in the case of a recent ad by Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw, as Floridians with pre-existing conditions.

The mid-October commercial doesn’t flip the script on the Democratic Party’s platform by any stretch. Step one: Attack the special interests, such as the gun lobby, funding the opposition. Step two: Explain how voting blue will get someone in office that’ll work for the people rather than corporate interests.

“Right now, it’s easier for these people to get one of these [a firearm] than to get health insurance if they have a preexisting condition because of politicians like Ashley Moody and the lobbyists that bankroll her campaign,” Shaw says in his 30-second spot.

The message checks all the boxes a campaign ad should, except for one detail.

If the tilt and pan shots weren’t impressive, the commercial’s obviously competent director slickly mixed the focal lengths of his camera to put Shaw in crisp focus and leave the crowd of extras behind him blurred.

But for a couple seconds, as the camera dollies up to the Tampa lawmaker, one extra who certainly didn’t get the job through central casting becomes clearly visible: John Fox.

Fox is an employee of the Florida Justice Association, formerly the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, which is one of largest special interest groups in the Sunshine State. Of course, Fox and Shaw are also close friends. They’ve even posted pictures of themselves knocking back a beer or two during their downtime.

Fox and Shaw

There’s nothing wrong with giving a friend an opportunity to be on a statewide ad, but it’s a little disingenuous for Shaw to say he’s running to be Florida’s top cop so he can “disarm” certain special interests when he’s apparently pretty chummy with other ones.

Shaw’s ad is below. Fox comes into focus at the 24-second mark.

GILLUM

Why I believe Andrew Gillum is about to bring it home

The most over-analyzed set of statistics in Florida politics is returned ballot math.

Some very smart people pore over the data each day and do, frankly, an incredible job informing the public about how Floridians are voting. Matt Isbell, Steve Schale, Dr. Dan Smith, etc. These are all brilliant individuals, and they deserve our collective gratitude for their insights and hard work.

However, with less than a week before we know who will be the next Governor of Florida, I’ve concluded that the returned ballot math is as indicative of who will win the election as total passing yards are of an NFL football team’s success. (I write this as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ticket holder. The Bucs have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, averaging 449.5 yards per game. As Rick Stroud notes, the Bucs are on pace to produce an astonishing 7,192 total yards of offense. That would put them within striking distance of the Greatest Show on Turf, the St. Louis Rams in 2000, when they compiled an NFL record 7,335 yards. The Bucs are also 3-4 and in fourth place in the NFC South.)

By believing this — that the returned ballot math is not a reliable predictor of who will win on Tuesday — I am rejecting some very compelling numbers staring me right in the face.

Through Halloween, there have been 3.1 million in-person and vote-by-mail ballots cast; of these ballots, Republicans are ahead of Democrats in returns, 42 percent to 40 percent. A GOP+2 model is probably as good as Team Ron DeSantis could hope for this election.

The polls show the race tiggghhhttt. The most recent poll, released Tuesday afternoon from Suffolk University, shows DeSantis down just one point to Gillum, although other polls show Gillum with a bigger lead than that.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’s internal polling has had him up anywhere between two to four points over the last week. You’d be foolish to dismiss this polling simply because it’s coming from DeSantis’s camp. It was DeSantis’s internal polling that during the GOP primary first showed he was leading Adam Putnam by more than two touchdowns.

In the face of all that — the GOP winning the returned ballot effort, the polls being super-tight, and DeSantis’s internal surveys showing him leading — I’m ready to go the other way.

Andrew Gillum is going to win the race for Florida Governor, probably by as many as seven points.

Here’s how I get there.

The private polling I trust the most is mirroring the polls that show DeSantis only down a point or two. However, in private poll after private poll that asks how those who say they have already voted cast their ballot, DeSantis — as well as Republicans up and down the ticket (except for Ashley Moody) — are getting creamed with these voters.

I can’t link to these private polls because they’re not mine to share, but I’m confident enough in them that I am basing my prediction about Gillum winning on the numbers I’ve seen.

For Gillum to be up — way outside the margin of error — with those who say they’ve already voted (a more reliable cohort than those who say they will vote) while the Republicans have a two-point advantage in returned ballots can only mean one thing: the Independent vote is breaking 3-to-2 or even 2-to-1 for Gillum. (Plus, I believe, DeSantis is doing slightly worse with GOP voters, especially college-educated suburban white women, than Gillum is with his base.)

We’re seeing the Independents break for Gillum in some of the recent public polling, such as the most recent one from the University of North Florida, which shows Gillum winning them 56 to 31 percent.

One well-regarded pollster who also believes the Independents are breaking hard for Gillum tells me that the propensity scores of the NPAs who have already voted (among those with such scores affixed to their records) are showing a distinct left lean.

These kinds of trends are difficult to discern in a general election poll because these polls are, by definition, modeled to look like what pollsters are estimating a likely electorate looks like. 

But when you take off your team’s jersey, whether it be red or blue, Gillum winning decisively on the strength of the Independent vote despite a strong GOP effort in returned ballots, it all makes perfect sense because this is what has been happening in all of the competitive elections held in Florida since Donald Trump was elected.

It happened in Senate District 40.

It happened in House District 72.

It happened in St. Petersburg.

Going into Election Day in those races, Republicans were fairly confident they could pull out a victory. But after the ballots were counted, they were dumbfounded as to how they lost so decisively.

I’m not going to qualify this post by writing something trite like, “DeSantis could still win if X or Y happens.” That’s just not what I believe will happen. Flame at me all you want, but also keep in mind, I was the only political writer in Florida who predicted Gillum versus DeSantis in the first place.

When you go to Vegas to make your bet, there’s no place on the ticket where you get to qualify your bet. You simply hand the cashier your money and pick a team to — win no matter how many passing yards the quarterback has thrown.

Barzee Flores

Could Mary Barzee Flores be 2018’s sleeper upset?

Will moderate Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo succumb to a Blue Wave? Will Democrat, Donna Shalala actually lose a seat that went plus-20 for Hillary in ‘16?

While those questions get hashed and rehashed by the media and those of us in The Process, a third Miami congressional seat appears to be breaking late, setting up the potential for an upset that would be earth shattering to South Florida politics.

Former Judge Mary Barzee Flores exited the CD27 Democratic primary abruptly on the last day of filing to throw her hat in against incumbent Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Florida’s 25th Congressional District. It’s a tough district for a Democrat, to be sure. Republicans outnumbered Dems on the basis of both registration and turnout, and the incumbent is from a political dynasty that’s a household name among Miami Cubans.

But while Shalala and Debbie Marcusel-Powell fight their higher-profile battles in the 27th and 26th, Barzee Flores is quietly building the momentum in the 25th.

Today brought more good news for Barzee Flores, with the endorsement of former VPOTUS and working-class hero, Joe Biden. But aside from Joe-mentum, Flores’ campaign has been on a roll lately.

The Naples Daily News endorsed her over the Republican two Sundays ago, in an editorial that basically said “it’s time for a change,” echoing a sentiment that seems pervasive across the electorate in 2018.

And MDB has been taking it on the chin repeatedly over the last few weeks.

First it was rabble rousing activist/blogger Grant Stern breaking a story that Diaz-Balart may have committed a federal crime by lying on a mortgage application. That was followed by a week of very bizarre, “the lady doth protest too much”-type denials from Diaz-Balart — trotting out emails from loan originators and generally overreacting to a liberal blogger who most incumbents probably wouldn’t even dignify with a response.

Then came a one-two punch of brutal stories from CBSMiami’s Jim Defede. One a broad piece about the intersection of guns and politics in 2018, that showcased the CD 25 race, along with Diaz-Balart’s post-Parkland NRA funding as the centerpiece of the segment. Then an equally devastating piece that basically implied a pay-to-play nexus between Mario’s seat in congress and the foreign lobbying contracts of his brother, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

In the midst of all that, the Miami Herald smacked Diaz-Balart for his wife, Tia’s involvement with a travel agency that advertised trips to Venezuela — a major no-no for Cuban exiles who view the Maduro regime in much the same way as they do the Castro’s. That story contained a truly bizarre denial from the Diaz-Balart camp, basically that Tia wasn’t very good at her job and never booked such a trip, along with a lightning speed scrubbing of her company’s website and social media pages.

All the while, Barzee Flores is dominating the Ft. Myers-Naples media market (where about 1/3 of the district resides) with a devastating ad tying Diaz-Balart to red tide and green algae by way of his campaign donations. And Diaz-Balart seems to be nowhere, dodging debates and running very modest TV buys that attack his opponent in ways that are both confusing and specious.

The makeup of this district remains favorable for the incumbent, but if election night ends up bringing a blue wave to Florida — even a rather modest one — this could well become an historic upset to the Miami political landscape.

You heard it here first, folks. Florida’s 25th is one to watch next Tuesday.

‘Hurt’ comment one of lowest moments of Andrew Gillum’s campaign

Remember the powerful line from Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high“?

Before Wednesday night, when the two candidates for Florida governor spent an hour making it uncomfortably clear how much they detest each other, Democrat Andrew Gillum had, for the most part, adhered to the motto articulated by the former First Lady.

Moderator Todd McDermott, an anchor for West Palm Beach’s WPBF, had barely finished introducing himself to a statewide television audience before Gillum and his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, engaged in an intense exchange of name-calling.

Gillum said the day after the primary that Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by supporting Gillum. And Gillum added that DeSantis was endorsed by President Donald Trump.

“My opponent … has run this race very, very close to the Trump handbook, where we call each other names, where we run false advertisements.”

Gillum then called DeSantis a liar, and DeSantis called Gillum corrupt (and a liar), pointing at Broadway tickets to “Hamilton” that were supplied by an undercover FBI agent investigating corruption at Tallahassee City Hall.

And on it went.

As POLITICO Florida recapped the debate, “the candidates sparred over virtually every topic, from school spending to taxes to health care to immigration to gun control. But it was all overshadowed by charges and counter-charges over radical associations, neo-Nazis and misuse of tax money.”

Gillum even spelled out n-i-g-g-e-r when making a point that one of DeSantis’ supporters referred to Barack Obama by that term.

“Now I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

It was one zinger like that after another.

Yet there was that one moment when Gillum, who has been on the defensive for four days, lost his cool in a way that we have yet to see from him on the campaign trail.

It was more than him just baring his fangs; it was actually one of the lowest moment of Gillum’s campaign.

As DeSantis hammered Gillum on Tallahassee’s crime rate. Gillum joked that DeSantis might want to reconsider running for Governor: “The governor’s mansion’s in Tallahassee. I would hate for him to be hurt.”

On a day when at least nine suspicious packages sent in recent days to public figures, including the Obama and Clinton families, and CNN’s New York bureau, Gillum cracked wise about a politician getting hurt. A politician, by the way, who last year had just left a Republican congressional baseball practice before a gunman starting shooting at his teammates.

Not funny, Mr. Mayor.

It was just the sort of thing that – gasp – President Trump might say.

In fact, he does say things like that and leaders like Gillum appropriately call him out for it.

As CNN’s Jeff Zucker just said yesterday after a suspicious package was delivered to his New York newsroom, “words matter.”

Mind you, DeSantis, at several points, scraped from the bottom of the barrel. For DeSantis to suggest that Gillum would allow child molesters to roam Florida communities is just DeClasse.

And the former Congressman also had his own moment where he came close to losing his cool over during the same question where Gillum spelled out the N-word.

“How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?” he said without waiting for McDermott to finish the query. He also contended that those statements, made by David Horowitz, came after his appearance at Horowitz’ Freedom Center conference — an assertion that McDermott immediately refuted.

But when they go low, Gillum’s supposed to go high, right?

Matt Isbell is, dangerously, selling fool’s gold about Florida Senate races

I respect Matt Isbell, the Democratic consultant best known for constructing data-driven political maps.

I enjoy his smarts and I especially enjoy his pluck. It’s not easy being a Dem operative in the Sunshine State. I respect and enjoy Isbell so much that on multiple occasions Florida Politics has published his work. I wish we published more of his work, in fact, so that with our broader platform, more people were able to read what about what he’s thinking.

However, in his most recent deep-dive — in which he argues “the map (of Florida Senate districts) is now expanded far enough where the path to a Senate majority becomes much more clear” — Isbell could not be more wrong. Perhaps irresponsibly wrong.

Isbell is so wrong that instead of shading the maps that accompany his analysis in blue and red, he should have colored them brown because, well, you get the picture.

Isabel’s not going to like what I write here. I got a preview yesterday on Twitter of what happens when you question his analysis. But it must be challenged.

For Democrats’ sake.

For Republicans’ sake.

The thrust of Isbell’s “Updated State Senate Rankings” is “that the State Senate map is growing as Election Day draws closer.” But the timing which underlies this supposed expansion is only my first issue with Isbell’s analysis. That’s because he’s updating rankings he established at the beginning of the cycle. A lot has happened since he first published his rankings. The chances of the Democrats have ebbed and flowed several times since then, as Florida Politics has reported on multiple occasions.

In fact, it was our reporting in March which first and clearly identified the real map the Democrats were working with headed into the meat of the election cycle.

But reading Isbell’s post, it feels as if Rip Vin Winkle has woken up and discovered that SD 22 or SD 24 might be in play.

The reality is those seats weren’t in play, then they were in play, but now are no longer really in play.

Just as the chances of the Democrats taking the Senate were non-existent at the beginning of the cycle, became a possibility at the start of candidate qualifying, but are not very strong headed into the final two weeks of the election.

Contrary to what Isbell suggests, the map is not expanding. It’s contracting.

And that’s the crux of why Isbell’s analysis, blaring from the top of Florida Playbook, is so dangerous.

“Matt just f*cking killed us,” said one Democratic consultant working in one of the genuine toss-up races. “We need every dollar we can get and this bulls*it report will force Senate Victory to going back and doling out the money ‘duck, duck, goose’ style.”

That consultant is right. Instead of the Democrats focusing on winning SD 16 (Amanda Murphy vs. Ed Hooper), SD 18 (Janet Cruz vs. Dana Young), and SD 36 (David Perez vs. Manny Diaz) — and reducing the GOP’s majority to 21-19 in the chamber, Isbell could gin up enough people into believing Democrats have a legitimate shot at shooting the moon.

The Democrats do have a straight path to 20-20, especially because of the situation in SD 14, but only if they win that seat and focus on winning just the three true toss-ups listed above.

But the Democrats could also come away empty-handed if they buy into what Isbell’s selling about an expanded map.

One place I have to agree with Isbell about is SD 14 and his decision to move it from “Safe GOP” to “Lean GOP.” This is the seat where Tom Wright, a Volusia County businessman, has replaced the late Sen. Dorothy Hukill as the Republican nominee. District 14 includes southern Volusia County and northern Brevard County. Hukill, a longtime lawmaker from Port Orange, faced only an unaffiliated candidate in winning the seat in 2016.

There’s no way to know how voters will react to Wright’s last-minute candidacy. Isbell believes that the selection of Wright, who has promised to self-fund his campaign, and the airing of negative ads against Mel Martin, the Democrat running for the seat, is an indication of the GOP being “nervous.” He’s probably not wrong.

But where Isbell is wrong is in several other places.

First of all, Senate District 8 should no longer be considered a toss-up, as Isbell contends. This is because Democratic nominee Kayser Enneking has trailed incumbent Republican by double-digits for in two separate polls taken a month apart. The most recent poll showed Perry up 49 to 39 over Enneking, who is losing part of her base to unaffiliated candidate Charles Goston, a former Gainesville City Commissioner.

Perry’s lead stems from his strong support among the Republican base compared to Enneking’s weaker support among SD 8 Democrats: Perry holds an 83-10 percent lead among GOP voters, while Enneking holds a 67-17 percent lead among registered Dems.

Isbell bases his assessment on SD 8 on Perry having a “narrow lead” in the polls with a ceiling “in the low 40s.” Because Isbell does not offer any data to support this, I’m not sure what he’s basing it on. Perry certainly cracked “the low 40s” in his 2016 campaign against Rod Smith, who is arguably the best known Democratic pol in the Alachua County-based district.

I’m not saying Enneking can’t win, but I am saying this race is not a toss-up. It should be viewed as, at least, a “Lean GOP” seat. And resource decisions should follow that guidance.

Senate District 22 is another seat in which the Democrats started the cycle with little hope of winning, then saw their chances improve, but now have a narrow path to victory. Like SD 8, the map expanded then contracted, contrary to  Isbell’s analysis, which cites “internal polls” that “show a tied race” between Republican incumbent Kelli Stargel and Democrat Bob Doyle.

I am not going to doubt Isbell saw an internal poll that showed the race tied, as Florida Politics reported on polling conducted during the late Summer that showed Doyle either leading or tied with Stargel. But that was then and this is now. Two polls taken a month apart show Stargel with a commanding lead over Doyle. Accordingly, it’s simply ridiculous to rank this seat, as Isbell does, a “Toss-up.” It belongs in the “Likely GOP” category and resource decisions should, again, follow that guidance.

A third seat in which Isbell upgraded the Democrats chances is SD 24, where incumbent Jeff Brandes (a friend and client of mine) is so far ahead in fundraising and polling that even the liberal editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times did not waste its endorsement on his opponent, environmentalist Lindsey Cross.

I’ve been working in this district since I began my career in political consulting. I know this seat like the back of my hand. I can probably tell you how many yard signs are up on such-and-such street. I’m telling you there is little chance Cross will upset Brandes. If that happens, the blue wave will be so tall it will wash out almost every Republican in office.

In his post, Isbell cites a St. Pete Polls survey in which Brandes has a twenty-point lead, but is only at 39 percent. This is cherry-picking the data and I’m surprised Isbell would do such a thing. He’s not taking into account an October St. Pete Polls survey that found the lawmaker with an 11-point lead over Cross, 52-41 percent with the remaining 7 percent of voters in the Pinellas County district unsure how they’ll vote come November.

As for SDs 23 and 25, if you want to believe the Democrats’ chances of defeating Joe Gruters are improving, be my guest.

(For what it’s worth, I am also unclear why Isbell would discount the numbers from St. Pete Polls’s surveys since they were the most accurate forecaster during the primary election. Conversely, Isbell puts too much stock in Change Research, which, as Florida Politics reported, has had all sorts of problems polling down-ballot races in Florida, although it was the only pollster that had Andrew Gillum winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Then again, Team Gillum did fund that poll).

Offline, I asked Isbell how he could possibly upgrade the Democrats’ chances of winning these seats.

“I honestly feel the public polls are wrong,” he replied.

Isbell is certainly entitled to his opinion. And he’s free to point to other evidence, empirical or anecdotal, to make his case. But Isbell is a data guy. Actually, that doesn’t do him justice. He is THE data guy for the Florida Democrats. On a professional level, he can’t base his analysis on how he ‘feels.’

What is probably worst about all of this is that Isbell’s analysis led off Tuesday edition of Florida Playbook. So there will be some (especially those silly people who only read Playbook and not Playbook + Sunburn or just Sunburn) who will really believe there is an expanded map for Florida Senate Democrats. Isbell’s analysis will create a false narrative in some circles that six or seven or eight districts are in play, when, at best it’s four or five are and, probably, it’s just two or three.

Every dollar that flows into SD 8 because of Isbell’s analysis is one dollar less than what is being spent on behalf of Janet Cruz.

Every dollar that flows into SD 22 because of Isbell’s analysis is one dollar less than what is being spent on Amanda Murphy.

Every dollar that is spent on longshot races like winning SD 23 is one dollar less than what is being spent on toss-ups.

Florida Democrats would do well to, just this one time, to ignore what Matt Isbell has to say.

Skip Campbell, mayor of Coral Springs and former lawmaker, dies at 69

Coral Springs Mayor Walter “Skip” Campbell has died at the age of 69.

Campbell became mayor in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016, but he had been living in Coral Springs for more than 30 years. The cause of death is unknown, though Campbell recently underwent hip replacement surgery.

Campbell also ran as the Democratic nominee for Florida attorney general in 2006 but lost to former U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum.

In a statement Wednesday morning, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Campbell a “giant” of justice and public service.

“He was my seat mate in the Florida Senate and was quick-witted, fun-loving, and always ready to reach across the aisle or bridge a divide to solve problems,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Tuesday night, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor, said: “Sending my condolences tonight to the family of Coral Springs Mayor and former Senator Skip Campbell, a statesman in the Sunshine State.”

Former Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler said: “Skip was a great public servant, lawyer, leader, mentor, and role model to many. Skip was truly special, and his passing is a tremendous loss to our community and the State. May God bless Skip and his family.”

Politicians of from the other side of the aisle also expressed their condolences and fond remembrances of Campbell. Among them was Alan Levine, who served as the secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration during Campbell’s time in the state Senate.

“Senator Campbell was a great man. I worked with him when he was in the Senate and I was Secretary of AHCA. From opposite parties, but he was always willing to help, was fair and played by an honorable set of rules. A huge loss. A good public servant,” Levine said via Twitter Wednesday morning.

According to CoralSprings.org, Campbell was born in Rockaway Beach, New York. He graduated from the University of Florida’s Law School in 1973. He has been president of the Broward County Bar Association, president of the Broward County Young Lawyers Association, and president of the Federal Bar Association of Broward County.

Campbell co-founded the law firm Krupnick & Campbell in 1975. It is now known as Krupnick Campbell Malone Buser Slama Hancock Liberman.

Born in New York, Campbell graduated from the University of Florida’s law school in 1973 and co-founded a law firm.

In 1996, Campbell ran for the Florida Senate and won. There, he spent 10 years representing the 32nd District, which covers Coral Springs, Davie and Weston. He won the seat again in 2000.

Campbell’s political career was marked by his support of consumer protections, increased civil liberties and support for stricter gun control measures. The latter of those positions was in the public spotlight earlier this year following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which is adjacent to Coral Springs.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.24.18

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

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

Breaking overnight – Coral Springs Mayor Walter “Skip” Campbell, a state Senator from 1996 to 2006, has died. He was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General in 2006. He became mayor of Coral Springs in November 2014, and was re-elected in November 2016. Campbell lived in the city for 36 years. He was 69.

The only story that matters – Lottery officials say someone has won the record $1.6 billion Mega Millions jackpot. Mega Millions officials say a ticket purchased in South Carolina matches all six numbers in Tuesday night’s drawing. The massive jackpot is the world’s largest ever lottery grand prize. The winning numbers were 5, 28, 62, 65, 70 and Mega Ball 5. No details on where the winning ticket was sold were immediately available.

Another three polls rolled out Monday in the race for Governor, each showing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum on top in his bid to bust the governmental trifecta Republicans hold in Florida.

Andrew Gillum may take top shelf polls, but it is not yet time to count Ron DeSantis out.

Like any poll, the numbers are only as reliable as the pollster. The best of Tuesday’s bunch, Quinnipiac University, found Gillum with a 6-point lead over Republican rival Ron DeSantis, 52-46 percent. The next, out of Florida Atlantic University, pegged the race at 41-36 percent, advantage Gillum. So a similar margin, but a tenfold increase in undecideds from the Q-poll.

If surveys were sprits, Quinnipiac would take a spot on the top shelf, and FAU would likely be considered a decent call.

Then there’s Survey USA, which may not even make the well. Its poll shows Gillum up 7 percentage points with 8 percent over voters undecided.

Unlike the Q-poll, which had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, or the FAU poll, which had a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points, Survey USA’s margin clocked in at over 5 percent.

One thing’s certain, however, as of Tuesday Gillum is ahead of DeSantis, and his lead appears to be growing, for now.

We’ve already gone over the numerous reasons why it’s silly to count DeSantis out at this stage of the game, and Tuesday another reason got added to the list: Lobbyist and estranged friend to Gillum, Adam Corey, broke his silence.

Among the tidbits was confirmation that Gillum knew his tix to see Hamilton on Broadway were provided by “Mike Miller,” a man now believed to be an undercover federal agent. If that revelation has the capacity to sour the Gillum bump and turn it into a slump, there’s sure to be another set of polls coming out in the near future.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @peterbakernyt: Trump at Houston rally: “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK? Nationalist. Use that word, use that word.”

— @LadyGaga: The government may be living in an alternate universe, but we as a society & culture know who we are and know our truth and must stick together and raise our voices so we can educate them about gender identities. #TransRightsAreHumanRights #WontBeErased

— @MarcoRubio: I understand instinct to cut U.S. aid to punish countries for failing to stop illegal migration. But our aid to #Honduras & #Guatemala isn’t cash. It’s primarily equipment & training to stop drugs headed to U.S. & to deal with the gangs causing people to leave those countries.

— @NickConfessore: I guess it was sort of inevitable that “Hamilton” tickets would eventually get a cameo in a corruption investigation.

— @GrantStern: Of course. It is news. The question is: If it is a crime, why has nobody been charged? Obviously, the FBI has known about it for a long time. Another good question: Did the FBI not charge anyone because what they did was entrapment? DeSantis must believe it’s a witch hunt.

— @MarcACaputo: Hey @FBI, my daughters really want to go see Hamilton. Anyway you could slip me a few tix?

— @TimCraigPost: Basically, DeSantis just abruptly closed a public press event because not enough people showed up to the event in Orlando, leaving more than a dozen Orlando-area journalists scrambling with nothing to report on

@Fineout: .@FLGovScott says power companies in Florida’s Panhandle have set a goal of having nearly all power restored by early November. Hurricane Michael hit Oct. 10. Nearly 48k customers remain without electricity – many of them in Calhoun and Jackson counties

— @Taniel: Lack of long lines to vote doesn’t have to mean low turnout! It can simply mean that county officials planning properly & spending appropriate resources. Flipside: long lines should not be normalized as an exciting sign of high turnout/mobilization.

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

Tuesday brought what Monday couldn’t: Enough returned mail ballots to bring the overall total past the 1 million mark. It also brought the first substantive early voting numbers since polls started opening in some Florida counties Monday morning.

The day brought in more than 244,000 ballots added to the running tab — 124,413 via post and another 119,800 at the polls. Overall, 1,060,046 mail ballots have completed their roundtrips and are back in the hands of local supervisors of election while, including Monday’s small EV turnout, 121,758 Floridians have cast their vote early.

Broken down by party, Republicans still hold the overall lead with a combined 512,472 ballots casts. Their share of the total, however, dipped by one point to just over 43 percent. Democrats, meanwhile, have cast 461,816 votes in all, giving them a one-point boost to 39 percent of the whole. Other party and independent voters take the other 18 percent and have turned in a combined 207,516 ballots.

Despite the six-figure VBM update, less than a third of mail ballots that have sent out to voters have made the return trip. Of the more than 2.2 million outstanding mail ballots, Democrats are holding onto 922,453, Republicans account for 807,553 and with other voters holding the other 493,730.

A final factoid for the day: Gulf and Hendry counties tallied their first ballots, posting 602 and 1,117. After Liberty County produced its inaugural batch on Monday, Gulf and Hendry were the two counties left off the scoreboard for the general election.

— TOP STORY —

Records show FBI agents gave Andrew Gillum tickets to ‘Hamilton’ in 2016” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Text messages between Gillum and former lobbyist Adam Corey, who arranged outings with undercover agents looking into city corruption, were among more than 100 pages of records Corey gave the ethics commission, which is investigating trips to Costa Rica and New York that Gillum took in 2016. The text messages show that, contrary to what his campaign has said, Gillum knew the tickets came from “Mike Miller,” who was an FBI agent posing as a developer looking into city corruption. “Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.,” Corey texted Gillum on Aug. 10, 2016. “Awesome news about Hamilton,” Gillum replied, according to the records.

Timeline of events: Highlights of texts involving Gillum and New York trip with FBI agent” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

>>>Here is a Facebook video posted late Tuesday, Gillum said that while the tickets were reserved by friends of Corey and he assumed that they were paid by Marcus Gillum, his brother. H/t Gary Fineout of the Associated Press.

>>>Be sure to check out this Twitter exchange between reporter Arek Sarkissian and Gillum spox Kevin Cate.

Our take – From a political standpoint, it may not matter even if Gillum paid quadruple the going rate. All that matters in this 24-hour news cycle is that the words “Gillum” and “FBI” are in headlines across the state at a time when early voting is ramping up. We’re sure DeSantis’ camp will hammer that point home relentlessly for the next two weeks, both in TV spots and campaign appearances.

It’s basically the same thing Clinton faced in the 2016 home stretch.

So, what Gillum needs now is for the FBI to say publicly that he is not the target of its investigation – as Gillum maintains he has been told. If that happens, he has to hope people are willing to go deeper than the headlines. And he has to hope enough people buy his statement printed in the Times. “These records vindicate and add more evidence that at every turn I was paying my own way or was with my family, for all trips, including picking up tickets from my brother, Marcus, who was with a group of his own friends,” Gillum said. “But this isn’t about a Broadway show, it’s about a sideshow, because Ron DeSantis and his associates have no vision, no healthcare plan, and are running the most false, negative campaign in Florida history. Floridians deserve better.”

Actually, on this day it is about a Broadway show because that’s the news of the day. Andrew Gillum’s problem is that even if his version of events is true, this has him playing defense. It knocks him off message and gives a boost to DeSantis. That’s a bad position to be in this close to the finish.

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Happening today:  DeSantis and Gillum will take part in a televised debate hosted by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association. The debate will be broadcast on television stations in markets across the state and on C-Span and will be on Florida Public Radio. 7 p.m.

Trey Radel-tied ad contains thick lines about Gillum” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new advertisement cut by Republican former U.S. Rep. Radel heaps Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum with uncomfortable levels of praise. Whether through sarcasm or misdirection, the radio spot from his Freedom Council USA runs through hard-left progressive stances that won Gillum his party nomination and the support of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The script, while narrated in a pleasant female voice, uses blunt terms aimed more at mobilizing conservatives or inciting nervousness in the middle. “Andrew Gillum is a champion of the people,” the ad begins. “He believes in democratic socialism. This form of socialism is going to do a lot of things to Florida.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Gillum ad highlights commitment to economy that ‘works for all’ — The 30-second spot, “Skills,” features Gillum speaking on investment in skills, trade and career training for high school students. “As Governor, I’ll invest in more skills, trade, and career training starting in high school to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Gillum said in the ad.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Jeanette Nunez will attend a series of events: noon, Early Voting Rally, West Dade Regional Library, 9445 SW 24th St., Miami; 2 p.m., dialogue with students and faculty, Westwood Christian School, 5801 SW 120 Avenue, Miami; 3:30 p.m., Hialeah Victory Office visit, 1001 West 49th Street, #2B, Hialeah. Please RSVP to Katherine San Pedro at kathy@rondesantis.com.

— SCOTT VS. NELSON —

Rick Scott battles the pollsters in Florida Senate race” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In three consecutive Senate polls released after the governor earned wall-to-wall media coverage for managing the storm, Scott trails Nelson. Scott’s team isn’t buying it. His campaign excoriated Quinnipiac University’s survey Monday showing Nelson with a large lead of 6 points, and argued instead that the governor is in fact leading by 5 points. The poll-truthing, however, revealed a deeper concern that’s long gnawed at some Republicans — including GOP donors from Scott’s well-heeled hometown of Naples: Scott should be doing far better given his cash advantage over Nelson

The turnaround: Scott leads Bill Nelson by 2 in new FAU poll” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The newest numbers from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) show Republican Gov. Scott ahead by just shy of 2 points in his efforts to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen Nelson. Scott pulled in just over 42 percent support, according to the new survey, whereas Nelson was sitting at a little under 41 percent support. A total of 13 percent said they were undecided, with 4 percent saying they would vote for someone else entirely. The FAU BEPI poll was conducted Oct. 18-21 and sampled 704 likely voters. It contains a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Joe Biden joins Nelson in Tallahassee“via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Former Vice President Joe Biden can attract a crowd. Tuesday he unexpectedly popped into a midtown coffee shop and while he held forth on the current state of politics, he was encircled by a crowd of more than 40, ranging in age from the mid-20s to the late 40s. Biden is barnstorming Florida to get out the vote for Democrats in the midterm election.

In dueling ads, Scott, Democrats battle to define him on pre-existing conditions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott is releasing a new Republican U.S. Senate television commercial declaring emphatically that he supports such coverage, and that for him it’s very personal. Meanwhile, Democrats are releasing their own commercial on the same subject, seeking to define Scott’s position on pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy, through Florida’s participation in a federal lawsuit seeking to throw out the federal mandate that states require insurance companies to not discriminate against people with such conditions. In Scott’s new 30-second ad launching,“It’s Personal,” he and his campaign seek to put to rest any confusion about his own position. He talks about how his brother Roger Scott suffered from pre-existing medical problems, and what family struggles then mean to the governor today.

To view Scott’s ad “It’s Personal,” click on the image below:

To view the Democrat’s ad “My Life,” click on the image below:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

First in Sunburn – VP Joe Biden endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner — Former Vice President Biden said: “Nikki Fried will be a great Commissioner of Agriculture and I am proud to support her. She will ensure complete background checks on gun permits, be a fighter for the farmers who have been left behind under the current trade war and protect Florida’s waterways for generations to come.”

Jesse Jackson, Florida lawmakers support ‘crime victims’ bill of rights’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The amendment aims to increase rights for crime victims in the state of Florida. It was modeled after “Marsy’s Law.” Marsy’s Law for Florida, a group advocating for the amendment’s passage, announced a group of former and current representatives who are voicing their support. They are Republican Congressman Gus BilirakisTom RooneyIleana Ros-LehtinenDennis RossTed Yoho and Carlos Curbelo, as well as Democratic Congressman Al Lawson and Darren Soto. Also supporting the bill is former U.S. Rep. and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

Yet another story you won’t see in Sunburn — “Amendment 9 endorsed by Winter the Dolphin, Pro Surfer Cory Lopez,” from a news release sent Tuesday by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

New ad touts Nancy Soderberg’s bipartisan approach to health care” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Fresh off a strong fundraising quarter, Soderberg is out with a new ad touting her health care priorities in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District. The new ad, “Afford,” features one of the St. Augustine Democrat’s would-be constituents, Kay, explaining why she left the Republican Party to cast a ballot for Soderberg in August and is planning to support her again in November. “I’m a schoolteacher and was a lifelong Republican. My uncle was even the Orange County campaign coordinator for Reagan. But this election, I can’t support Mike Waltz for Congress.” … “Nancy will work with Republicans and Democrats and make sure our health care is affordable.” … Soderberg and Waltz are competing for the Congressional seat recently vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. … the seat went +17 for Trump and DeSantis two years ago, but the handicappers at FiveThirtyEight give Soderberg a two in seven chance to flip it blue.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

The most interesting congressional race in Florida? – Kristen Carlson’s campaign for CD 15 is releasing a new poll showing the race tied at 47 percent. This is the third poll in the last week showing a tied race; New York Times/Siena College and SurveyUSA polls have shown similar results. Yesterday, Cook Political Report classified the race as a “Toss Up,” just as FiveThirtyEight has as well. “Poll after poll is showing that this race will be competitive until the end,” said Conor Hurley, campaign manager for Kristen Carlson for Congress. “Kristen’s issue-focused campaign presents a sharp, positive contrast to Spano’s extreme views. We will continue reaching out to a broad base of supporters so we can turn out the vote we need to win.” The full polling memo can be read here.

Lauren Baer promises to ‘listen’ to voters in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Baer’s ad features three supporters spotlighted in previous campaign ads. The new spot, titled “Listen,” contains new commentary from those supporters about why they back Baer in supporting the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “It’s just knowing that if I get sick, I’m not gonna get bankrupt,” says Mel Liebman, a Baer supporter. “Brian Mast has taken drug and insurance money and voted to make your health care premiums higher…,” the narrator adds. “And I begged, and said, ‘please don’t do this,’” says Veronica “Ronnie” Ciaramella, a breast cancer survivor who lobbied mass to oppose repeal of the ACA. “She is gonna listen to me,” Ciaramella says. “I think she’ll be excellent,” Liebman says.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Pro-veterans group hits Baer over 9/11 comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad from With Honor, a PAC committed to electing veterans to Congress, is going after Democratic candidate over her critiques of American foreign policy following the 9/11 attacks. The new ad from With Honor, called “Stand,” argues such criticism just a month after the attacks were inappropriate. “On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 innocent Americans were killed by terrorists,” the ad’s narrator recalls. “Just one month later Lauren Baer criticized our country, calling our response to 9/11, when hundreds of first responders sacrificed their lives, ‘a moment of hypocrisy,’ writing that America has a ‘shameful history’ of rarely standing up for values of justice and righteousness. “If Lauren Baer couldn’t stand with us after 9/11, how can she stand up for us in Congress?”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will speak to the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club, 11:30 a.m., City Fish Market, 7940 Glades Road, Boca Raton. 

Progressives file ethics complaint against Mario Diaz-Balart over mortgages” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF), a progressive group founded by liberal activist David Brock, has filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) over a pair of mortgages taken out by U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart. While it’s not clear yet whether anything improper occurred, allegations of wrongdoing by Diaz-Balart were first made in a piece by Grant Stern on DCReport. In it, Stern alleges Diaz-Balart may have violated federal criminal law by the way his mortgages were set up for properties in Miami and Washington, D.C. In ADLF’s letter to the OCE, the group piggybacks on the report, noting that if Diaz-Balart was ineligible for that tax break, he “may have received an improper gift in violation of long-standing House rules.” The group asserts that “Rep. Diaz-Balart received loans and tax exemptions he likely did not qualify for, and under more generous terms than he otherwise would have received, by simultaneously presenting as his primary residences the Miami home and D.C. condo.”

Maria Elvira Salazar internal poll puts her ahead by 9 points” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The new poll from Salazar’s team, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, shows Salazar earning 50 percent support to Donna Shalala’s 41 percent. The survey was conducted Oct. 11-14 and sampled 400 registered voters. Those results are in opposition to an independent poll from The New York Times showing Shalala ahead 44 percent to 37 percent. Another recent poll from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had Shalala up by 5 points. As always, take publicly-released internal polls with a grain of salt … the Tampa Bay Times did recently downgrade Shalala’s chances to win the CD 27 seat, event after the release of The New York Times poll.

Donna Shalala drops ad hitting opponent over Cuba comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shalala is out with a new radio ad hitting her Republican opponent over comments on Fidel Castro and Cuba policy under the Donald Trump administration. Shalala, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is competing against Salazar for the seat. “Maria Elvira Salazar called the murderous dictator, Fidel Castro, ‘El Comandante,’ ” the ad’s narrator begins in Spanish. “She lied to the voters saying that Donald Trump and the United States should break any kind of relationship or link with Cuba. But meanwhile, behind closed doors, Maria Elvira asserts that Trump must speak with Raul Castro. What is her true position on murderous dictators? Maria Elvira Salazar is not reliable. She is not trustworthy on Cuba or any other issue.”

To listen to the ad, click on the image below:

Carlos Curbelo’s tax vote is ‘last straw,’ says new Democratic ad — The theme of the DCCC ads, in both English and Spanish, our constituents writing “goodbye letters” to Curbelo. “In addition to his health care vote, South Floridians are saying ‘goodbye’ to Congressman Curbelo because of his vote for a massive tax handout to the wealthy and big corporations, which would increase the deficit by $1.9 trillion and lead to cuts to Social Security and Medicare,’ said a statement announcing the ads.

To view the ad in Spanish, click on the image below:

To view the ad in English, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Spotted on Twitter: Meet The Press’ Chuck Todd with state Sen. Dana Young on Tuesday —Enjoyed discussing my Senate Re-election Campaign with @chucktodd from @MeetThePress this am! Come out to Jan Platt Library or any Early Vote location and say hi! We will be here all day! #TeamYoung18”

Anna Eskamani clears $500K raised for HD 47 flip” via Florida Politics — Eskamani’s new reports haven’t been uploaded to the Florida Division of Elections website, though she said in a news release that she’s now raised $426,891 in hard money and another $73,850 in soft money through her affiliated political committee People Power for Florida. Though her campaign didn’t list how much of that cash is still in the bank, Eskamani’s financial reports covering Oct. 6 through Oct. 12 showed her with about $63,000 banked between the two accounts.

Ethics complaint filed against Mike Caruso in increasingly contentious HD 89 race” via Florida Politics — Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio has filed a complaint alleging Republican opponent Caruso for violating a half-dozen campaign laws, including those that govern “in-kind” contributions and the proper filing of campaign finance reports. In a letter sent to the Florida Elections Commission, Bonfiglio pointed to a recent Florida Politics article outlining the Delray Beach Republican’s contentious relationship with the Bermuda High West Beach & Tennis Club and his use of its facilities as an unofficial campaign headquarters during the primary election season. The lack of disclosure could prove troublesome for Caruso as his campaign shelled out more than $9,000 for photography and video production services around the same time he was cited for crowding out fellow members with camera equipment.

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Morning must-read: “After Michael, are we in for another truck war?” via Peter Schorsch. Click here to read the full blog post.

A hurricane’s chaos. A cry of looting. Then gunfire.” via Alan Blinder and Richard A. Oppel Jr. — Ceely Taylor had not seen her fiancé in two days when, frightened and worried, she went to the authorities. In the chaotic days this month after Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle, he had somehow vanished. But by the time Ms. Taylor described Dakota Brooks, the 6-foot-tall steam plant worker she was engaged to, to a police investigator, he was already dead — killed not by the hurricane’s ravaging winds or storm surge, but by a state law enforcement officer who may have thought he was a looter. It took days for Mr. Brooks’s friends and family to learn his fate in the frenzied aftermath of the Category 4 storm, which killed 19 people in coastal Bay County and left hundreds of families searching for missing relatives — hampered by downed power lines, unreliable cellphone service and shaky internet connections.

For the poor, nowhere to go” via Eileen Kelley of GateHouse Media — There is a crisis in Panama City. Poor people are sorting through what is salvageable and what they can bring with them when they attempt to start their lives over. Where and when they start over is anyone’s guess. Affordable housing is hard to find in just about every city in America. Panama City and its surrounding communities are no exception. Hurricane Michael barreled through and made it worse, much worse. The fierce winds left the area’s poor and disenfranchised in even worse shape than before the Oct. 10 storm. Residents at numerous public and subsidized housing complexes across the city have been told to leave their uninhabitable units — some of which people spent years on waiting lists trying to nail down.

Residents of Panama City face chaos, looting and tragedy in the weeks after Hurricane Michael. (Image via The Washington Post)

928 people still unaccounted for as battered Panhandle prepares for rain” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Those people were informally reported missing to state and local officials, as well as the Red Cross, by concerned relatives and friends asking about the status of loved ones. State officials said during a morning briefing at the Tallahassee emergency operations center that there would be teams going “house-to-house” to reduce that number. They stressed that it is almost certainly an overestimation of the true number of people missing, because most people, when they get a phone call or finally make contact with their missing friend or family member, don’t call back to cancel their original request made shortly after the storm. If people originally reported a loved one missing who has been found, officials request that they call back the same agency or nonprofit to provide that update.

Tyndall Air Force Base was in the eye of the storm, and almost every structure was damaged” via Joel Achenbach, Kevin Begos and Dan Lamothe — Col. Brian Laidlaw has a satellite image on his cellphone showing the eye of Hurricane Michael making landfall. Peer deep into the left side of the eye, and you can see two parallel lines. Those are his runways. You see some structures. Those are his hangars. Somewhere in there on that Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago was the colonel himself, the commander of Tyndall Air Force Base, here on the coast of the Florida Panhandle. He rode out the storm along with 92 other personnel after thousands of people under his command had evacuated.

Your Michael-related insurance claims tally — The number has hit 92,160, the Office of Insurance Regulation reported Tuesday, with a value exceeding $1 billion. They included 68,994 residential property claims, 3,298 commercial property claims, 189 business-interruption claims, and 55 private flood insurance claims. Carriers had paid 7,394 claims and closed 3,125 without paying anything. CoreLogic, the data and research company, has estimated the final tally in Florida could hit $4 billion, with additional states hit by Michael contributing another $1 billion.

Gulf Power on schedule to reconnect customers — The company says 95 percent of its Bay County customers should be connected by Wednesday — but that’s for the ones able to receive power safely. Thousands will have to restore connections between their homes and the power grid. Crews will be ready, the company says, to hook them up as soon as it’s safe. “This is a long path to recovery. We have more than 200 of our own teammates who live and work in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, so they know firsthand the challenges our customers are facing,” said Sandy Sims, general manager for Gulf Power’s eastern district. “This is our home, and our commitment to rebuilding and recovering extends beyond the electric system. With many of our customers no longer able to safely receive power due to significant damage, the need is great.”

FMEA: North Florida public power customers fully restored” via Florida Politics — Less than two weeks after the nearly Category 5 Hurricane Michael, power has been “fully restored to all public power customers who can accept power,” according to the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA). “For the third Atlantic hurricane season in a row, FMEA activated the American Public Power Association mutual aid network and put out a long-range call for mutual aid assistance several days before the storm made landfall,” it said. “More than 600 power restoration personnel from 16 states and more than 80 utilities came to help restore power and rebuild the electric grid in the affected communities.”

Tourism promoters stress Pensacola unscathed by Michael” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — … State and local agencies charged with promoting tourism in the Pensacola region are concerned news reports and images of Michael’s path of destruction through Panama City, Mexico Beach, Tyndall Air Force Base and other areas might cause people thinking about visiting the Pensacola area to change their plans. “We are fighting the media so perception is key,” said Nicole Stacey, spokeswoman for Visit Pensacola, the local tourism promotion agency, in an emailed statement. … Visit Florida, the state agency charged with promoting tourism, is planning a $9 million media campaign to market areas of the Panhandle not hit by Michael.

While the Panhandle begins rebuilding from Hurricane Michael, VISIT FLORIDA is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to show the world that the rest of Florida is open for business.

Jimmy Patronis: Banks need to give a break to hurricane victims” via Florida Politics — The state’s CFO urged financial institutions on Tuesday to waive late fees and charges for using ATMs in the Hurricane Michael impact zone, among other forms of assistance. “Many financial institutions have already announced they are taking these steps to help families in the Panhandle, and I encourage all banks and credit unions to follow suit and help these communities recover,” he said. Areas suggested for leniency include late fees for credit cards, auto and personal loans, credit lines, and insufficient balances. Additionally, Patronis wants reports from all banks and credit unions about what they’re doing along these lines.

Michael could sour Florida’s tupelo honey harvest” via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press — Tanker trucks of corn syrup and tens of thousands of pounds of synthetic pollen are being rushed to beekeepers from the Gulf of Mexico to the Georgia state line to feed surviving bee colonies that also pollinate crops such as watermelons, cantaloupes and blueberries. “Just feeding my bees is the biggest concern,” said Gary Adkison, a Wewahitchka beekeeper. “There’s no nectar.” Adkison, who named his Blue-Eyed Girl Honey for his granddaughter, lost about 50 of his 150 hives to the storm, each containing 30,000 to 40,000 bees. Unlike other beekeepers who move their colonies to pollinate crops as far away as California, Adkison keeps his hives local year-round. Michael’s toll on tupelos is as yet unclear because the trees are difficult to reach except by barge and considerable debris remains to be cleared. David Westervelt, a state apiary inspection supervisor, said damaged trees might take two or three years to start blooming again.

— STATEWIDE —

Judge clears way for challenges to gun law” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson last week refused a request by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office to dismiss three consolidated lawsuits that contend the 2011 law, which threatens penalties such as removal from office, is unconstitutional. Local governments challenged the law after the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, as at least some cities and counties looked at approving gun-related measures. The Legislature passed the tough penalties in 2011 as a way of enforcing a decades-old law that gives control of gun regulation to the state rather than local governments — a concept known as state “pre-emption.” The 2011 law, in part, threatens removal from office and fines for city and county officials who pass restrictions that violate the older pre-emption law.

State spends opioid crisis coin nabbing naloxone — The state Department of Health said Tuesday that it’s spent half more than half of the cash lawmakers budgeted to combat the opioid crisis buying doses of naloxone, a drug used to counteract overdoses. The Florida Legislature allocated $50 million over 10 years to boost the departments’ opioid crisis efforts, and since it received its first $5 million payment at the beginning of July it’s shelled out $2.6 million to buy 65,043 doses of naloxone. Those doses went to 127 institutions that respond to overdose emergencies and were selected through a competitive review process, though Doug Woodlief of DOH said the department wasn’t “leaving anybody out” if it was determined there was a legitimate need. More applications are expected to flood in when the second round opens up on Dec. 1. Opioid deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, with the class of drugs killing 5,725 Floridians in 2016. Through the first half of 2017, the most recently available data from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, opioids were the direct cause of another 3,494 deaths.

The president says it’s OK, claims Tampa man accused of groping woman on flight” via Daniel Figueroa of the Tampa Bay Times — Bruce Michael Alexander, 49, grabbed the woman at least twice during a Sunday flight from Houston to Albuquerque, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico. Alexander made the comment about the president to an FBI agent, in an apparent reference to a 2005 conversation caught on video by Access Hollywood in which Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women. Alexander was seated in a window seat aboard Southwest Flight 5421, behind a woman whom authorities only identified by her initials. The woman told authorities she fell asleep on the plane and about 15 to 20 minutes into the flight, she “felt her clothes move and a touching of fingers on her right side” of her upper body.

Bruce Michael Alexander says if groping women is good enough for the president, it’s good enough for him.

What Ken Lawson is reading: “FSU students to present Collegiate Blockchain Conference” via Kathleen Haughney of Florida State University — Students have organized the first Collegiate Blockchain Conference at the university to explore cryptocurrency and the associated technology known as Blockchain … Blockchain is a digital ledger where transactions are recorded chronologically and cannot be altered. Programmable contractual agreements that automatically execute if certain conditions are met can be created through Blockchain, allowing the technology to be applied to a variety of industries, including finance, health care, government and supply chain. The conference will be held Nov. 3 and will feature speakers from a variety of universities and corporations across the Southeast. IBM is a headline sponsor for the event.

Accreditation team invites public comment on FDLE — Assessors with the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) will visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement beginning Nov. 28 as part of the accreditation process, the agency announced Tuesday. The assessors will look at policies, procedures, management, operations and support services in addition to conducting interviews and visiting offices. Regional visits will be in Pensacola, Tampa and Miami. As part of the assessment, members of the public are invited to offer comments in writing (CFA, P.O. Box 1489, Tallahassee, Florida 32302) or via email (info@flaccreditation.org). Comments must address the agency’s ability to comply with standards, a copy of which are available here. FDLE must comply with more than 100 standards to receive accreditation.

FPL, parent company report higher earnings” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Power & Light reported increased earnings in the year’s third quarter, according a regulatory filing by parent company NextEra Energy. FPL reported third-quarter 2018 net income of $654 million, or $1.37 per share, compared to $566 million, or $1.19 per share, during the third quarter in 2017. Among other things, FPL’s average number of customers increased by 58,000, or 1.2 percent, from the previous year, the filing said. NextEra, meanwhile, also had higher earnings in the quarter. It reported net income of $1.007 billion, or $2.10 per share, compared to $847 million, or $1.79 per share, for the third quarter of 2017.

— OPINIONS —

 We must stay dedicated to saving our water, environment” via Steve Crisafulli for News-Press.com — As Speaker of the Florida House, I made water policy a top priority, focusing on modernizing our water laws and investing in projects to address our quality and supply challenges. Despite the significant progress we made, Florida remains gripped in a seemingly intractable water crisis. Why does toxic algae remain so persistent, and where do we go from here are questions on every Floridian’s mind. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes. Restoring water quality and expanding supply take time and constant vigilance. Florida’s political leaders are the most focused on water in a generation. Our next Governor, Agriculture Commissioner and legislature must continue to make water a top priority.

— MOVEMENTS —

Spotted in POLITICO Influence — Brian Ballard’s Ballard Partners at No. 7 on the list of U.S. Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for the third quarter of 2018: “$5 million (versus $4.6 million in Q2 2018 and $2.8 million in Q3 2017).”

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Bryan Cherry, PinPoint Results: Reach Recovery Center

Ronald LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Hygea Holdings

Mary Ann Stiles, Quintairos Prieto Wood & Boyer: Crum & Forster, Palm Beach State College

— ALOE —

An Indiana Jones mini-land may finally find a home at Disney’s Hollywood Studios” via Ken Storey of Orlando Weekly — It’s been no secret that Disney is looking to give Indiana Jones a more significant presence at Walt Disney World. As is typical with these types of projects, it seems various teams at Imagineering have been assigned to flesh out exactly what Indiana Jones would look like at each of the non-Magic Kingdom resorts for Walt Disney World. All three parks are slated for additions throughout the 2020s. Now with details on Imagineering’s proposal for Indiana Jones at Hollywood Studios being shared by trusted insiders, we’re learning new information on what may be the future for one of the last remaining original sections of WDW’s third theme park. Replacing not only the stunt show but also the area around it, the new Indiana Jones mini-land would be roughly 8 acres in size.

Rumor has it Indiana Jones could eventually have a permanent home in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Kamia Brown and former state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed. Also celebrating today is the incredible, actually, she deserves all caps, the INCREDIBLE Kelly Cohen of Southern Strategy Group – Orlando, as well as Connie Prince.

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