Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 401

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.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.12.18

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

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

Logic testing and hardball tactics marked the start of Florida’s first statewide recounts in 18 years.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign filed two new lawsuits Sunday, one demanding law enforcement impound and secure voting machines, tallies and ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties any time they were not actively in use. Democrats decried the move as akin to “Latin American dictators.” But Attorney General Pam Bondi wants officials taking a hard look at election irregularities in the Democratic counties and referring potential infractions to the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

Gov. Rick Scott is taking a hardball stance on this Florida ‘recount’ situation.

Another lawsuit demanded any votes tabulates in Palm Beach County after Saturday’s reporting deadline to the state for an initial ballot count get tossed from official totals. That initial tabulation of votes shows Scott with a 12,562-vote lead on Democrat Bill Nelson. The 0.15-percent margin of victory easily falls within the 0.5-percent trigger for a statewide recount.

“Sen. Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try and win this election,” Scott told Fox News Sunday.

But Nelson countered: “If Rick Scott wanted to make sure every legal ballot is counted, he would not be suing to try and stop voters from having their legal ballot counted as intended.”

Meanwhile, Palm Beach County supervisor Susan Bucher told CNN “it’s impossible” her county will meet a Thursday deadline to complete a machine recount, something on-the-ground election observers from both parties confirm.

That’s bad news for any votes at the bottom of the pile. Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell tells Florida Politics that whatever’s ready when the deadline comes must stand.

“Florida law clearly states that if a county does not submit their results by the deadline then the results on file at that time take their place,” she says.

Meanwhile, the race for Governor remained squarely in recount range as well, but unlikely to flip with Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes or 0.41 percent. DeSantis maintained a steady hand this weekend, even as Gillum retracted his concession. The Republican called election results “clear and unambiguous” but has filed no litigation.

As for one Democrat leading a statewide contest, Agriculture Nikki Fried declared victory, boasting just a 5,326-vote or 0.06 percent lead over Republican Matt Caldwell, who has his own litigation pending.

Meanwhile, candidates in state Senate District 18 and in state House districts 26 and 89 quietly wait for recounts to conclude respectively in Hillsborough, Volusia and, yes, Palm Beach counties.


@RealDonaldTrump: Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!

@DavidHogg111: Crazy that Trump is talking more about Broward County now than when 17 people were shot and killed here.

@TowsonFraser: Broward County, you’re why we can’t have nice things in Florida! My social media feed is supposed to be full of people complaining about Christmas decorations in stores, not politics!

@TedDeutch: Congratulations to @nikkifried on your big win! It’s about time Floridians had a leader responsible for our firearm permitting process who is committed to our safety and following the law, rather than following NRA marching orders!

@Redistrict: Staggering: if every uncalled race breaks as I expect, House Dems’ class of 61 freshmen would include *35* women & just 19 white men. By contrast, Republicans’ class of 31 would include 29 white men & just *one* woman.

@ida_v_e: My sister’s opponent @StocktonReeves has yet to call @AnnaForFlorida to congratulate her on an incredible & hard-fought victory, though he & the @FloridaGOP were more than happy to spend $500K+ on false attack ads & claims of “restoring civility” in politics.

@MDixon55: How is everyone holding up as the first @JeffAtwater-less election cycle in decades comes to an end?

@EmilyDuda7: I know you all think FSU lost last night. but they’re still tallying up the points down in Broward so really we won’t know who won for another 2 weeks.


Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 6; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 8; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 8; Thanksgiving — 10; Black Friday — 11; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 15; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 30; 116th Congress convenes — 52; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 77; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 92; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 113; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 117; Iowa Caucuses — 448; 2020 General Election — 722.


Miami-Dade begins race to recount 800,000 ballots in three close Florida elections.” via Pedro Portal of the Miami Herald — Florida’s most populous county including Miami-Dade launched a recount Saturday afternoon for an estimated 813,000 ballots after state officials ordered recounts in the races for U.S. Senate, Governor and Agricultural Commissioner.

To view the video, click on the image below:

’It’s impossible’ to finish recount by deadline, Palm Beach County election supervisor says” via Gregory Krieg of CNN — The election overseer for a critical county in Florida confirmed what observers in both parties had begun to predict: There is no way Palm Beach County’s machine recount will be finished by the Thursday deadline. “It’s impossible,” said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. The prediction came as a rare point of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the state, who have engaged in a tense fight since Tuesday’s election brought tight margins in statewide races. Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Florida Department of State, told CNN’s Ana Cabrera that if a county does not submit its results by the deadline, “then the results on file at that time take their place,” she said.

Questions linger about legitimacy of Broward ballots” via Lulu Ramadan of the Palm Beach Post — Broward elections chief Snipes delivered the county’s vote totals to the state officials ahead of the noon deadline Saturday, but accusations that the results included “illegal” votes suggests more criticism and doubt is on the horizon. No sight better captured Florida’s election frenzy than the dueling protests outside the Broward County elections warehouse, and the equally contentious battles happening within it. William Scherer, an attorney for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott, called into the question the legitimacy of election results in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold. At issue were 205 provisional ballots Snipes accepted despite the fact that at least 20 of them were deemed ineligible by the Broward County Canvassing Board. Snipes did not say how the ineligible ballots ended up in a pool of tabulated votes, or exactly how many there were. She had a choice, she said, to reject all 205 ballots or accept them.

— “‘Incompetence’: Broward election chief likely to be forced from office by Rick Scott, Ron DeSantis” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Rick Scott wants cops to ‘impound’ voting machines, Democrats call him a dictator” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Scott wants recount efforts in Palm Beach and Broward counties handled like a crime scene, arguing in court filings that past election mishaps in those counties warrant the involvement of law enforcement. His latest legal efforts have sparked intensified sniping between Republicans, who want voting machines in counties with histories of election problems protected, and Democrats, who say Scott is acting like a “Latin American dictator.” Scott asserts that election officials in Palm Beach and Broward counties can’t be trusted with voting equipment in large part because of past election woes associated with Broward County Supervisor of Elections Snipes and Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

Scott’s monitors agree with state cops: no Florida voter fraud” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott asked state law enforcement to investigate Broward County election officials because of potential “rampant [voter] fraud,” even though monitors from his own administration say they have seen none in that county. “Our staff has seen no evidence of criminal activity at this time,” Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell wrote in an email. That assessment, which was first reported by the Miami Herald, jives with that given by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which said … it has also seen no allegations of fraud.

Scott continues election fraud claims but offers no evidence on Fox News” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Scott continued to make the claim even though his own staff at the Secretary of State’s office confirmed that they have not found “any evidence of criminal activity at this time,” and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it isn’t investigating any suspected fraud. Because of mismanagement problems during previous elections at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office, the state had official observers deployed there during the election, and that was before it became clear the U.S. Senate race, as well as the races for governor and agriculture commissioner, were so tight it triggered an automatic recount under Florida law. Scott asked several times in the Fox interview about where “93,000” votes came from in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the days after election night. Nelson’s legal team has said that the increase comes simply from all votes being counted up until the noon Saturday deadline for all supervisors of elections to produce unofficial results.

Advocacy groups tell Scott he should remove himself from recount process” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — The League of Women Voters Florida and Common Cause sent letters to Scott calling on him to “immediately relinquish authority and remove yourself from any person or agency responsible for the processing and counting of ballots from the Nov. 6 general election.” The two groups said Scott improperly threatened “a show of force” by asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate vote counting in Broward County.

In the crosshairs: Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes is coming under fire for her record of questionable election practices.

Senate campaign chief: Scott ‘right to be upset’ with vote in Florida” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Sen. Cory Gardner, the head of the GOP Senate campaign committee, attacked Florida election officials in the middle of a heated Senate race between incumbent Nelson and Scott. Gardner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that there is evidence officials violated the Florida state constitution in Tuesday’s midterm elections. “I understand Gov. Scott’s frustration, that there are people who are breaking the law, violating the constitution in Florida in Broward County, in Palm [Beach County]. And so I think he’s right to be upset,” said Gardner, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

To view Gardner’s comments, click on the image below:

Pam Bondi rips FDLE over elections investigation” via the News Service of Florida — In an unusual move, Bondi publicly criticized Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen for not pursuing an investigation into alleged irregularities in the handling of election ballots in Broward and Palm Beach counties. An FDLE spokeswoman said Friday that the agency was working with the Florida Department of State “and will investigate any allegations of criminal activity or fraud. We do not have an active investigation at this point.” Bondi wrote in her letter to Swearingen that she was “deeply troubled” and that his “duty is not limited to investigating allegations made by the secretary of state.” She also said FDLE had pointed to a lack of a written complaint in deciding not to pursue an investigation.

Judge rebukes Palm Beach County elections head over duplicated ballots” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Circuit Court Judge Krista Marx said Palm Beach County elections chief Bucher should have submitted improperly completed ballots to the county’s Canvassing Board, instead of allowing her staff to make decisions on voter intent and fill out duplicate ballots to feed through machines. “Everything I have says the Canvassing Board must make the determination not your staff members. … The language is unambiguous that it is for the canvassing board to make the determination,” Marx said.


Donald Trump accuses Democrats of ‘election theft’ in Florida Senate race” via Caitlin Oprysko of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s unloading began Friday morning as he spoke to reporters while leaving for Paris. … As Trump prepared to board the transatlantic flight, he told reporters that there “could be” intervention by the federal government. “All of a sudden they’re finding votes out of nowhere,” Trump claimed, noting that Scott’s lead in the Senate race has been narrowing with each batch of votes reported by the two heavily Democratic counties. In a tweet posted aboard Air Force One, Trump called the snafu “an embarrassment to our Country and to Democracy” and asked why elections officials there “never find Republican votes.” “[Scott] easily won but every hour it seems to be going down, I think that people have to look at it very very cautiously,” he said, following up on Twitter by appearing to joke that the issues in Florida — and a similar controversy in Georgia’s still-undecided Governor’s race — could be attributed to Russian interference.

Pallets of ballots: Matt Gaetz makes the case to remove Brenda Snipes” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — Gaetz said the boxes upon boxes of paper behind him on the truck approximated the more than 80,859 ballots that “materialized out of thin air” in Broward County and were added to statewide vote totals since Election Day.

To watch Gaetz’s video, click on the image below:

Florida can (re)count on Elizabeth Warren” via Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald — Warren sent a fundraising appeal to her supporters, urging them to donate to help Democratic Sen. Nelson’s bid for a recount … “Bill Nelson will need an army of volunteers and lawyers to make sure every vote is counted fairly,” she wrote. “And Bill Nelson’s campaign has already spent every penny it could to get people to the polls on Tuesday. Will you dig deep one more time to support Bill Nelson’s campaign?” Warren is hoping the answer is yes, but her motives seem less than selfless. She’s eager to help out Nelson and Florida Democrats to gain important brownie points in the party for her own expected White House campaign.

Jemele Hill says she was almost kept from voting in Orlando over a tweet” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Hill, a former Orlando Sentinel sportswriter who has owned a home in Orange County for years, wrote in an article in The Atlantic that when she showed up at her polling place, “I found that I had been kicked off the registered-voter roll.” After being allowed to fill out a provisional ballot, Hill wrote she was later called by a Supervisor of Elections office staffer who told her a tweet she had written a few days earlier “had been brought to their attention.” “I had written that I had recently moved to Los Angeles, but was returning to Florida for early voting so I could vote for Andrew Gillum …” Hill wrote. “Being a journalist means signing up for life as a nomad. I’ve lived in three different cities this year alone. I’ve lived in six different cities over the course of my 21-year career in journalism.”


Ron DeSantis calls election ‘clear and unambiguous’ ahead of recount” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “With the election behind us, it’s now time to come together as a state as we prepare to serve all Floridians,” DeSantis said in a video statement. “Since Tuesday night, that is what I have been doing and that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead as I prepare to take office as the 46th Governor of the State of Florida.”

To view the video statement, click on the image below:

— “As recounts rage on, Ron DeSantis begins transition to power” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Here’s what we could expect DeSantis to do for Florida’s environment” via Eve Samples of the Tallahassee Democrat — “I am not a liberal environmentalist, and I’m never pretending to be,” he said Sept. 11 during a campaign stop when he toured a toxic algae-infested in Cape Coral. Like Teddy Roosevelt, he said, he sees the environment as “way of life.” Liberals are more “ideological” about the environment, DeSantis said. DeSantis’ 12-point plan promised he would advocate for Florida lawmakers to pass legislation that bans fracking “on day one” of his job as governor. The new governor can advocate all he wants, but bills to ban fracking died in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the Florida Legislature. DeSantis’ plan called for centralizing enforcement of water quality standards so all efforts fall under the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Now, some of that work falls to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

House budget chief Travis Cummings optimistic about DeSantis era” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — For DeSantis loyalists and Northeast Florida partisans both, the Cummings appointment is good news. He said he was “excited and fortunate” to be chosen, noting that while Northeast Florida is “well-positioned,” he has a holistic view regarding money for school safety and the environment in what otherwise will be a “pretty tight budget year.” One focus will be recovery from this year’s devastating Hurricane Michael. “The Panhandle continues to suffer,” Cummings noted. And after three straight years of catastrophic storms, the state will have to further refine plans regarding tropical weather emergencies. Cummings, entering year seven in the House, also will look for ways to increase school safety, a process began in earnest last year with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act.

Andrew Gillum rescinds concession in Governor’s race” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — “I am replacing my words of concession in an unapologetic call that we count every vote,” Gillum said Saturday. Gillum blasted claims of fraud made by President Trump, Gov. Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio in the days after the Nov. 6 election. “We heard a chorus of voices — a chorus counting for the ending of counting in this process,” Gillum said. “What is their excuse for that? I’m not sure.”

Andrew Gillum withdraws his earlier concession, calling for all ballots counted. (Image via Getty)

>>>The Associated Press has retracted its decision in the Governor’s race: “The Associated Press is retracting its call in the race for Florida governor. The AP had declared Republican Ron DeSantis the winner over Democrat Andrew Gillum.”

Nikki Fried declares victory in Cabinet race, announces transition team ahead of recount” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Fried told reporters that her announcement was not premature, and that “the process has a way of working itself out.” Her transition team, she said, will be led by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who represented the large agriculture community of Martin County.


What the Florida midterms tell us about paying for our economic priorities” via Graham Brink of the Tampa Bay Times — 1. For now, we’re OK with taxing ourselves. It’s a good time to vote on a tax increase. The economy is chugging along. Unemployment is low. Consumers remain fairly confident about the future. 2. But we aren’t so fond of Tallahassee politicians taxing us. Voters easily passed Amendment 5, which will require the Legislature to muster a two-thirds supermajority if it wants to impose, approve or raise state taxes or fees. 3. Enough of us were feeling bullish to forgo a tax break. Amendment 1 would have increased the homestead exemption by an additional $25,000, saving many homeowners about $200 to $350 a year depending on the value of their home and where they live. Of the 12 proposed constitutional amendments, it is the only one that failed.

Just a middling turnout by South Florida voters would have turned election” via Fred Grimm for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Some 42.6 percent of Broward voters were no-shows. In what progressives billed as the most important midterm election in memory, an opportunity to repudiate the mendacity and bigotry and sexism and reactionary politics of the Trump regime, 503,000 voters from the most progressive county in Florida couldn’t be bothered. Only Miami-Dade managed a more dismal showing. In a county where 53.8 percent of the population is foreign-born after a campaign season turned rancid by the denigration of immigrants, 618,000 Miami-Dade registered voters still decided they had more pressing issues than attending to their civic obligations. The election turnout in Miami-Dade was depressing. In Broward, it was downright disgraceful.

Did missing South Florida absentee ballots turn the tide?” via Tony Doris of the Palm Beach Post — State elections data indicate hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots mailed out were not returned, more than enough to have made the difference in Florida’s 2018 midterm election, where margins were so slender the governor’s and senator’s races are headed for recounts. The number of absentee ballots not returned was much higher than in the 2014 or 2016 general elections. And the data show that played to the benefit of Republican candidates, especially in heavily Democratic Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. In those South Florida counties, 174,649 ballots sent to Democrats weren’t returned. That’s 91,038 more than those not returned by Republicans. The three counties accounted for 86 percent of the statewide gap of 105,283 between Democratic and Republican vote-by-mail ballots not returned.

Missing South Florida mail-in ballots could be the deciding factor in the midterms. (Image via the Palm Beach Post)

Constitution panel ‘vindicated’ by Tuesday votes” via the News Service of Florida — It was the first time a ballot slate from the constitutional panel won full approval from voters, despite controversy over the combining of multiple issues in single ballot measures. This year’s panel also achieved ballot success while being the first commission to face a requirement that constitutional amendments receive approval from 60 percent of voters. That requirement was put in place in 2006. Former Senate President Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who served on the 37-member commission, said Tuesday’s outcome validated the work of the panel. “I think that does give a convincing answer to the many editorial boards around the state who trashed the CRC and criticized the way that it did business,” Gaetz said. “Our form of government is based on trusting the people and their ability to make choices at the ballot box. And apparently, that trust was affirmed by the constitutional amendment decisions that the voters

How vote to end greyhound racing won and what comes next” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — The National Greyhound Association, the racing industry’s trade group, claims it passed because voters were “misled into supporting a measure that not only will cost thousands of jobs in the state, but one that opens the door for future campaigns to force the radical animal rights agenda on the people.” But the Yes on 13 campaign had something voters apparently found compelling: state reports of the dogs being injured or even dying on the track and in some cases the video footage to prove it. Florida’s 11 active dog tracks will have until Jan. 1, 2021, to phase out their live greyhound racing. They’ll still be able to race horses, if their tracks can accommodate the event, and they’ll still be able to have wagering on simulcast races from other tracks, including from dog tracks in the five remaining states where the practice is still active and legal.

’Girl rescued at sea’ now riding high toward Democratic-controlled Congress” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With Tuesday’s convincing re-election victory in a moderate district, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy finds herself as a potential rising power in the upcoming Democratic-controlled 116th Congress, especially if the party’s moderates try to take power. Murphy eased into office as a centrist and began appealing to the Republicans’ chamber-of-commerce wing, all the Republican vows to take back CD 7 started falling away. On one hand, Murphy has not endorsed the speakership bid of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and should she return to the speakership, Murphy’s lack of loyalty could cost her. On the other hand, Murphy has become a key member of so many centrist-Democratic and bipartisan groups, including the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democratic Coalition, on both of which she co-chairs subcommittees, that her available vote in the speakership race could be a valuable get, worth negotiating for.

After contentious election, Ed Hooper lays out Senate priorities” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — One of the Republican’s top priorities is reducing distracted driving. There have been several efforts in recent years to make texting while driving a ticketable offense. The Legislature approved making distracted driving a secondary offense in 2013. Hooper also wants to focus on education improvements including increasing funding for public education. In a detraction from some in his party, Hooper doesn’t agree that charter schools, which are often run by for-profit entities, should share half of the public school funding for school maintenance. Charter schools educate just 10 percent of Florida’s public school students. He does support maintaining Florida’s tax credit scholarship. That program allows businesses and individuals to deduct money from their taxes for making contributions into a fund that provides scholarships for low-income students to attend private school. Hooper also said he wants to crack down on fraudulent and rampant assignment of benefit claims in the insurance industry and reduce the cost of flood insurance for property owners.

Hillsborough now firmly blue” via Charlie Frago and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Voters not only elected their first majority Democrat commission but also the first majority female board since 2004. And the county that overwhelmingly rejected a transit referendum in 2010 enthusiastically backed not one, but two new taxes for schools and transportation. Once considered a bellwether county, pundits say Hillsborough is now firmly blue. The shift is the result of a burgeoning young population in urban areas like downtown Tampa and Seminole Heights, and the spread of suburbs into once Republican strongholds in the east and south of the county. “We’re living in a Democratic county,” said Republican political consultant Anthony Pedicini, whose two commission candidates, Republican Todd Marks and Commissioner Victor Crist, both lost heavily in countywide races. The shift in Hillsborough’s politics was evident up and down the ballot.

Gaming journalist Nick Sortal wins city council seat in Plantation” via Howard Stutz of CDC Gaming Reports — Sortal, a contributor to CDC Gaming Reports, was elected to the City Council in Plantation on Tuesday. Sortal is considered one of the most knowledgeable journalists on Florida gaming matters, tribal gaming, and regional casinos. He took a sabbatical from writing his once-a-week commentary back in July to campaign full-time for the Group 5 seat left vacant by the death of the previous councilman. Sortal won the two-person race by 279 votes — 14,580 to the 14,301 votes collected by Timothy Fadgen. He will be sworn in Nov. 16 and will serve the remaining two years of the term. “I’m ready to hit the ground running,” Sortal said.

Gambling journalist Nick Sortal is now a member of the Plantation City Council.

Danny Burgess, Bobby DuBose plan 2020 re-election bids” via the News Service of Florida — Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican who easily defeated unaffiliated candidate David “TK” Hayes, opened a campaign account to run again in Pasco County’s House District 38, according to the state Division of Elections website. Similarly, DuBose, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who was unopposed this year, opened a campaign account to seek another term in Broward County’s House District 94. Last week, Miami Democrat James Bush III, who was elected in the August primary, opened an account to run again in 2020 in Miami-Dade County’s House District 109, according to the Division of Elections website.


Agriculture industry takes a big hit in hurricane” via the News Service of Florida — Florida’s agriculture industry suffered nearly $1.49 billion in damages from Hurricane Michael, with timber growers the hardest hit, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said … estimated the economic losses for the timber industry at $1.3 billion, a figure the Florida Forest Service projected shortly after the storm. The rest of the numbers mostly align with figures presented by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in late October. Those numbers projected that nearly 1 million acres of crops such as cotton, nuts and vegetables, along with beef, dairy and other animal products, were damaged across 25 counties. In the department’s report, cotton damages were estimated at $49.9 million, cattle at $43 million, peanuts at $23 million and nurseries at $16 million.

Florida and Georgia both face huge agriculture losses because of Hurricane Michael.

ICYMI — “Prosecutors drop case against exonerated death-row inmate Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin” via Michael Williams of the Orlando Sentinel — Aguirre-Jarquin spent nearly 15 years behind bars — including 10 on death row — for the 2004 stabbing deaths of Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis in Altamonte Springs. The decision by State Attorney Phil Archer’s office to drop the case came two years after the Florida Supreme Court overturned Aguirre-Jarquin’s conviction based on repeated confessions to the crimes by Samantha Williams, Cheryl Williams’ daughter and Bareis’ granddaughter — and days after new testimony surfaced that undermined her alibi. Aguirre-Jarquin walked out of a detention facility Monday afternoon, hugging members of his legal team and supporters. But his future remains unclear. (T)he U.S. Department of Homeland Security placed an immigration hold on the undocumented Honduran immigrant. He was released on bond.

Must read: “Starving for help: A search for mental health care ends tragically at the Putnam County Jail” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Gregory Allan Futch was physically and mentally ill when he was taken into custody by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. When the deputies came, Vicki Futch expected them to take her mentally ill son to the hospital. She’d been in touch with a captain from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office about her son, trying to arrange an escort. But Greg was in a particularly agitated mood that day in late January. He became violent and struck Vicki, 80, across the face. Feeling as if she were out of options, Vicki Futch texted the captain again, but a deputy responded instead. He noted a mark on Vicki’s cheek, arrested Futch, and booked him into the county jail … Futch spent the next two weeks suffering in jail. Medical staff there logged behavioral and physical health episodes with regularity but were unable or unwilling to provide relief for Futch. By the time he was taken back to the hospital, Futch, at 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 100 pounds. Two days before he was arrested, he weighed 154 pounds, according to medical records. Futch died on Feb. 17.

Mass murderer Nikolas Cruz registered to vote in jail. A Parkland parent is enraged” via David Neal of the Miami Herald — Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, one of the 14 students Cruz confessed to murdering on his Feb. 14 rampage, tweeted his fury, referring to Cruz by his Broward County court case number: “I’m sick to my stomach. 18-1958 murdered 17 students & staff, including my daughter Meadow. Yet in July, Broward Sheriff @ScottJIsrael let people into the jail to get him & other animals registered to vote. The Despicable Democrats have no shame. Can’t let them steal this election.” Cruz registered on July 25 as a Republican, according to online state records. He used the address of the Broward County Jail, 555 SE First Ave., in Fort Lauderdale. Cruz remains eligible to vote in Florida.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will begin a four-day meeting which will include a presentation about 911 calls on the day of the shooting on February 14, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Felony theft threshold in Florida is lower than other states, bringing stiffer punishments” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida has the second-lowest threshold for felony theft in the country: Stealing anything worth more than $300 is felony grand theft. Only New Jersey’s is lower, at $200. And the threshold goes up as soon as you cross the Florida line: $1,500 in Georgia and Alabama, and $1,000 in Mississippi and Louisiana. The national median is $1,000, according to a 2018 Pew Charitable Trusts study. Once a person crosses the felony threshold, punishments become much more severe. Felony grand theft of $300 to $5,000 can get a defendant up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, according to state law. It also means a lifelong record as a convicted felon.

Marco cop cashed in personal time, bought condo after using other officers’ donated hours” via Devan Patel of the Marco Eagle — In an email to the City Council and city manager earlier this year, former Sgt. Micheal Vogel, who retired on May 10, made allegations of impropriety against current Sgt. Mark Haueter among a number of complaints lodged against the police department. Haueter, who required medical procedures two years ago to combat a form of mouth cancer and missed weeks of work, received 521 donated hours from officers, including Vogel, after Police Chief Al Schettino solicited donations in August 2016, public records show. “[…] These hours were donated by other officers and civilian employees for his cancer surgery,” Vogel wrote. “If he didn’t need them anymore they should have been saved for others or returned the hours back to the officers and civilians who graciously donated them. Instead, he cashed them in for his personal gain. I know for a fact that he used the donated time before using his own personal leave.” The practice is found in most state agencies, counties and cities in Florida where it is explicitly written that an employee must exhaust all of his or her personal leave hours before donated hours can be used.

State gives final approval to double-digit workers’ comp rate cut” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — State regulators gave the final OK for a 13.8 percent decrease in Florida’s average workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The change takes effect Jan. 1. “Workers’ compensation insurance is a critical operating cost for business owners, and the 13.8 percent rate decrease approval will allow employers to support Florida’s families better, visitors and labor force,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said. “This most recent decrease marks approximately $454 million in savings for employers and can help facilitate additional cost savings for the communities they serve,” he said.


Stephanie Murphy honors Florida WWI veteran in American cemetery in France — Congresswoman Murphy placed a wreath at an American cemetery in Paris at the gravesite of First Lieutenant Louis Alexander Torres, a Florida native who lost his life in World War I. Torres served in the U.S. Army’s Quartermaster Corps and died on Sept. 1, 1918. Murphy traveled to Paris to commemorate 100 years since the end of World War I and to represent Florida in a bipartisan delegation who are meeting with French officials and private sector leaders. Said Murphy, whose family was rescued by the U.S. Navy when she was a baby and who worked as a national security specialist at the Department of Defense: “On behalf of a grateful nation and all freedom-loving people, thank you to America’s veterans and your families for your service to this nation and may God bless you all.”

Stephanie Murphy lays a wreath at an American cemetery in Paris at the gravesite of First Lieutenant Louis Alexander Torres, a Florida native who lost his life in World War I.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, will hold a news conference about the exit of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the effects on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, 10:30 a.m. Federal Courthouse, 701 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.


Fire Brenda Snipes” via the National Review editorial board — The supervisor of elections in Broward County does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. This year alone, Snipes has been reprimanded by the courts twice: once, in May, for illegally destroying ballots during the 2016 Democratic primary, in violation of both state and federal law; and again, in August, for illegally opening mail-in ballots in secret. How long, we wonder, does it take to establish a pattern? It should be clear by now that Broward County has a systemic problem with its management of elections. On present evidence, if Brenda Snipes is to be removed from her role, it will once again be because the governor cries “Enough.” When Ron DeSantis takes office in January, he should fire Snipes. And when he has done that, he should insist that Broward County take a good, hard look in the mirror, the better to ask how long it wishes to remain a den of blustery incompetence, or worse.

Tim Canova: I warned Rick Scott about Broward’s election swamp” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For two years, I have been warning that the Broward Supervisor of Elections office is a swamp of corruption. I’ve been urging Gov. Scott to fire Supervisor Brenda Snipes, clean out the office and start criminal investigations. I’m sure Gov. Scott now wishes he had heeded those warnings. I warned that if she were kept in office, there would be more official misconduct in elections. None of our law enforcement agencies — the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Attorney General or the U.S. Attorney for South Florida — were interested in starting criminal investigations. Sadly, I no longer trust any election result reported in Broward County. There needs to be an investigation of every election that’s taken place here.


Barry Richard — Gillum’s recount lawyer — takes leave from firm” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Richard, the veteran Tallahassee attorney now representing Democratic candidate for Governor Gillum during the gubernatorial vote recount, has taken a leave of absence from his law firm. That firm, Greenberg Traurig, adopted a leave policy for its attorneys taking on any matter “that might be controversial or disruptive,” Richard told Florida Politics Sunday morning. “The policy is, you take a short leave of absence and then return to normal,” he added. “It’s really not a big deal … This is probably going to be over next week.”

— ALOE —

Watching TV or going online? Veterans help make it happen.” via Florida Politics — One in ten people employed by Florida’s internet and television industry are U.S. military veterans, according to a new mini-documentary produced by the Florida Internet & Television. Timed for a Monday release, the video helps commemorate Veterans Day. “You may know the members of Florida Internet & Television for our cutting-edge technology, our high-speed broadband, and all the ways we entertain and connect you,” says FIT President and CEO Brad Swanson, who introduces the video. “But what you may not know is our recruitment to recruiting, hiring and retaining military veterans.” The four-minute video tells the story of five vets — each employed by companies like Comcast or Charter Communications — and highlights the corporate support for military veterans and their families, through such benefits such as guard and reserve leave time, tuition assistance, military concierge services, and technician apprenticeships.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

What Michelle Todd is reading — “UCF Knights to host ESPN College GameDay, face off with Cincinnati in prime-time” via Iliana Limón Romero of the Orlando Sentinel — The Knights’ (9-0, 6-0) matchup with Cincinnati (9-1, 5-1) is set to kick off at 8 p.m. Saturday and air nationally on ABC. The game will determine the winner of the American Athletic Conference’s East Division title. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who has irked UCF fans with his criticism of their ability to compete for a College Football Playoff semifinal bid, helped announced the decision via video posted on the College GameDay Twitter account. “If you look at the slate of games, there’s one game that really stands out. And this fan base has been waiting for the last two years to recognize their program and bring College GameDay to Orlando. And this is the week that it happens,” Herbstreit said before touting the accomplishments of UCF and Cincinnati.

She said “Yes!” — Congratulations to Helen Boyer and Evan Ross on their engagement.

Happy birthday from the weekend to Rep. Bob Rommel, Pinellas Commissioner Pat Gerard and the incredible Samantha Sexton. Celebrating today is former L.G. Jeff Kottkamp, our good friend Taylor Biehl, my paisan Rep. Nick DiCeglieShawn Frost, and Lindsay Harrington.

Veterans in TV/internet

Watching TV or going online? Veterans help make it happen.

When using high-speed broadband or watching something on various screens, American veterans play a big role in making all that happen.

One in 10 people employed by Florida’s internet and television industry are U.S. military veterans, according to a new mini-documentary produced by the Florida Internet & Television Industry. Timed for a Monday release, the video helps commemorate Veterans Day.

“You may know the members of Florida Internet & Television for our cutting-edge technology, our high-speed broadband, and all the ways we entertain and connect you,” says FIT President and CEO Brad Swanson, who introduces the video. “But what you may not know is our commitment to recruiting, hiring and retaining military veterans.”

As Florida continues toward its goal of being the most veteran-friendly state in the nation, FIT member companies like Comcast and Charter Communications have been proactive in recruiting and welcoming vets. This is important, as former service members often find it difficult to get quality jobs after leaving the military.

“Soon, America will have nearly 2 million veterans under the age of 34 who served in post-Sept. 11 conflicts,” says a statement on the FIT website. “Despite having years of experience in the world’s most technologically-advanced military, many struggle to find gainful employment in the civilian world. Worse, the veteran employment rate consistently ranks above the overall unemployment rate for other workers.”

The four-minute video tells the story of five vets — each employed by companies like Comcast or Charter Communications — and highlights the corporate support for military veterans and their families, through such benefits as guard and reserve leave time, tuition assistance, military concierge services, and technician apprenticeships.

“Nobody does more for veterans than the internet and television industry,” added former Veterans Florida Executive Director Bobby Carbonell.

Carbonell, who now serves as Innovation Program Officer at the Air Force National Guard, is one of the featured vets in the mini-doc.

To watch the full video, click on the image below:

Winners and losers emerging from Florida’s 2018 general election

Remember back, say, two years ago? The 2018 governor’s race was supposed to be Adam Putnam’s to lose.

And then he did.

Then it was Gwen Graham’s to lose. And she lost.

Then it was Andrew Gillum’s. And so did he.

So here we are with Ron DeSantis getting sworn-in in January (we think, maybe, who knows, that margin of victory is shrinking), and — oh, by the way — multiple recounts going down, as of this writing.

This was the year to expect the unexpected. Of course, we didn’t and were shocked — shocked! — when reality didn’t coincide with the polls. (But we’ll get there.)

So without further ado, here are this election’s Winners and Losers, with a proviso that this list is a work in progress:

Big-li-est winner 

Donald Trump — He got his man DeSantis into the Governor’s Office and another Republican vote Rick Scott into the U.S. Senate. Yeah, yeah, recount. Whatevs. We don’t think Bill Nelson will overcome that 17,000-vote deficit. And with Republicans squarely in control of pretty much everything in Florida beyond local seats, even if it did change anything, it still wouldn’t. The GOP ruling class would see to it.


Team DeSantis — Hats off to Susie Wiles, Sarah Bascom and her colleagues at her firm, Tim Baker, Brad Herold, and James Blair for taking a novice statewide candidate and getting him across the finish line. Outside consultants Rich Heffley, Jim Rimes, and David Johnson also pitched in. And let’s not forget Trump 2016 staff who took off from their jobs to come back to Florida to help her this cycle. Now comes the hard part: Putting the DeSantis brand on a state government that now has been fully made in the vision of Rick Scott. Part of that challenge will be further refining what, exactly, the DeSantis brand is. 

>>>By the way, this is four statewide races in a row that Wiles has been part of the winning team. That’s an incredible run.

Team Scott Pending a recount they should win, Scott’s advisers and staffers have now taken, beginning with the 2010 GOP primary, four brutally tough statewide races in a row. As Scott administration alum Darrick McGhee bragged on Twitter, every cycle the critics don’t give Scott a chance, yet he ends up winning. Special shouts-out to campaign manager Jackie Schutz and ‘shadow’ lieutenant governor Brecht Heuchan. Talk about refining a brand; he did it for Scott.

Team Moody — Give campaign manager Nick Catroppo credit for making sure the former Hillsborough circuit judge became the state’s next chief legal officer. Let’s not forget consultants Marc Reichelderfer and Tom Piccolo as instrumental in that race too. Communications guru Christina Johnson was pitch perfect, per usual. And chief fundraiser Samantha Blair and finance chair Michael Corcoran made sure Moody had all the money she needed to win.

Matt Gaetz — Easily wins re-election to Congress. Is it a coincidence he’s DeSantis’ No. 1 cheerleader? Uh no, considering he’s possibly Trump’s biggest fan. It’s no fun being a minority party backbencher in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House, but now he’s a co-chair of the DeSantis transition team. Another idea: If Trump pivots toward normalizing marijuana in some kind of triangulation gambit, Gaetz may be his lead warrior, especially the Prez limits his bite at that apple to descheduling cannabis nationwide for medicinal purposes.

On MessageCurt Anderson’s consulting shop now has raked in millions through the Scott machine’s largesse. We always knew Scott’s political team influenced state government, but the longtime Scott political adviser rose to the latest electoral challenge. Anderson might be frustrated with his guy’s historically slim margins of victory, but the game ain’t won by hits, it’s won by runs, and a win is a win.

Melissa Sellers — The former Scott communications director-turned-chief of staff-turned-outside Svengali gets significant credit for running the outgoing governor’s super PAC and quarterbacking Jimmy Patronis’ victory over low-energy Democrat Jeremy Ring to a full elected term as the state’s Chief Financial Officer. What’s next for this Wonder Woman? We’ll soon see.

Blaise Ingoglia — Critics, including @Fla_Pol, have not liked the far-rightward turn of the Florida GOP. And, well, he certainly doesn’t operate like previous chairs. But he and his team, as opposed to playing a poor hand well, actually held good cards. There’s an abundance of talent on the team. Let’s hope he uses it well.

Richard Corcoran — To show you how short memories are even in hardball politics, the guy who said DeSantis combined a “bulldog mouth” with a “chihuahua a — ” is now co-chairing the transition team. The former Speaker still has connections to House leadership, so he’s good there. At this rate, though, we’re ready to go out on a limb: Congratulations, new Florida Supreme Court Justice Corcoran.

Americans for Prosperity-FloridaEarly supporters of DeSantis, backed him in primary, only organization on the right (other than the RGA) who put the most resources into supporting him. Also invested heavily in Scott’s run for the Senate. And they were the only organization on the right to support Amendment 4 and Amendment 11. Both passed.

Election lawyers — A certain writer of ours jokingly refers to certain things being “Attorney Employment Acts.” Lawyers specializing in elections law (and there’s actually not a plethora of them in Tallahassee) will do well on this short, limited opportunity for work because of recounts in several tight races. First up, for example, Washington lawyer Marc Elias for the Nelson camp.

Everglades Foundation — CEO Eric Eikenberg will be very happy to have a Governor who makes Everglades restoration and a southern reservoir a key component of the administration. ‘Nuff said.

Everglades Trust — How many times was the Everglades Trust mentioned in the debates? The endorsement and fundraising led by executive director Kimberly Mitchell was a major issue, with the state under siege from blue-green algae and red tide. The Trust just became a force, and showed the Dems they can’t take them for granted.

Florida sheriffs — They win for their strong backing of Moody for Attorney General and for Amendment 10, the measure that ensures county-level offices like theirs will be elected and not appointed. We’ll see if how they get rewarded politically for their loyalty.

Criminal justice reform advocatesWith Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Byron Donalds returning to the Legislature, the body will have two conservative champions for ‘smart approaches’ to juvenile/criminal justice reform while promoting public safety. It saves taxpayer dollars and provides second chances to those who’ve been touched by the justice system.

Ryan Tyson — The guy we branded the smartest in the room two years ago certainly proved it in the general election, privately forecasting a path to victory for the Republicans, while calming jittery political heavyweights who were reading the public polls and wondering why Tyson was shorting them. He’s too press-averse to take a bow, so we’ll do it for him.

School budgets — POLITICO’s headline summed it up: “Every proposed local education tax passed in Florida.” That’s a counterintuitive bet in the tax-averse Sunshine State. Yet it paid off despite the usual agitation by Florida’s many retired folks that they don’t want to subsidize other kids’ schooling. Maybe more grandparents have moved here to be closer to their children, and their children’s children.

Supervisors of Elections — How about a round of applause for the people who get none of the glory (but God help them if they screw something up), the quietly proud elections supervisors, like Brian Corley of Pasco, Mike Ertel of Seminole, and Craig Latimer of Hillsborough. We’d mention more, but we’d run out of room.

The Villages With wide variations throughout the state, 62.1 percent of Florida voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s midterm elections, according to the Division of Elections. The highest turnout? Nearly 77.7 percent in Sumter County, which includes a large part of the massive Villages retirement community. Whoo, seniors voting!

TV media buyers — Those who get commissioned by selling TV made freaking bank. Seriously. Tampa was going for over $1,000 per point in the closing weeks. Somebody has a new boat. Make that “somebodies.

Constitution Revision Commission — By the way, all the CRC amendments passed. ALL of them. The criticism, the lawsuits, the backstabbing, the sneering, all of it ended up meaning nothing. It was noise that voters ignored when they filled in all those black ovals. CRC Chair Carlos Beruff, and Style and Drafting Committee head Brecht Heuchan should feel vindicated because, dammit, they were.

Cities, counties — They’re winners because Amendment 1 flunked at the ballot box. It could have cost them many millions in property tax revenue. Bacon saved once again, thanks to hard work of League of Cities and Association of Counties.

Realtors — They wanted Amendment 2, they got it. In particular, credit Beth Matuga and Ann Howard for passage of the Amendment, which continues the 10 percent cap on property tax assessment increases on non-homestead’ed properties. The measure passed with a commanding 66 percent approval of voters.

Disney, Seminole Tribe — They certainly got what they paid for, spending millions on a campaign for the ‘voter control of gambling’ amendment. It requires anything that would allow pari-mutuels to expand their gambling operations to go up on a statewide referendum. It passed with 71 percent. ‘Achievement unlocked’ awards go to JJ Whitson and Paul Seago.

Voting right for felonsJackie Lee managed the Amendment 4 campaign, and was another big winner Tuesday night (and there weren’t that many on the Democratic side). Lee managed a bipartisan coalition to get the amendment over the magical 60 percent threshold. It was not an easy campaign, but hey, 64 ½ percent later they were victorious.

“Marsy’s Law” teamRandy Enwright and his team at Enwright Rimes get the ‘W’ on Amendment 6, along with Greg Ungru as Executive Director. Also pulling more than their weight was Ryan Erwin (on the National Team), Jon Fleischman (National Team), Kim McGlynn and BIPC Team, Gail Gitcho (National), Screven Watson, Cory Tilley and all of Core Message, Lauren and Ron Book, Sandi Poreda, Rosanna Catalano, Jerry Paul and many, many more. Sen. Lauren Book also deserves kudos for being one of the biggest backers of Amendment 6 when most everyone thought the CRC amendments would fail — she took a risk and helped pass something she cares passionately about.

Amendment 7 — Another ‘bundled’ amendment, including enshrining the state college system in the constitution, that was like Reese’s, different tastes that taste good together. Nicole Washington and Emery Gainey did the first big lift, backed by Madeline Pumariega, Chancellor of the Florida College System and Ava Parker, Chair of the College Council of Presidents and President Palm Beach State College. Kudos.

Don Gaetz — No. 1 cheerleader of the lobbying reform measure, Amendment 12. The member of the Constitution Revision Commission wanted to pass ethics reform when he was Senate President, but was stymied by — ahem — other forces. He was able to convince fellow CRC members to OK an amendment to the voters, and it passed with no problem.

Lobbying firms — With the passage of Amendment 12, which increases the ban on former elected officials from lobbying for money from two years to six years, it actually consolidates the power of existing influence firms. Bust a cap on the Moet, boys.

Bill Galvano — He’s still going to be Senate President. His Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC), the primary fundraising panel supporting GOP state Senate campaigns, put many Democratic challenges out of their misery. And Brody Enwright was the mastermind behind the ground operation for FRSCC that was critical in winning. Special shout out to fundraising heavyweight Nancy Texeira who — between FRSCC and Senate Republicans’ hard dollar campaigns — helped raise more than $40 million. That record-breaking fundraising haul helped lift the outcomes for Republicans up and down the ballot.

Wilton Simpson — The Senate Republican Leader and future Senate President isn’t set to take the reins till 2020. But the mild-mannered egg farmer from Pasco County quietly raised millions alongside Galvano, rallied the troops to hold the majority and handily won re-election himself.

Team Keith Perry — The Gainesville Republican, against the secret fears of many GOP faithful, fended off a challenge for his Senate seat from Dr. Kayser Enneking. The others winners are those who ran that campaign day to day: campaign manager Kayla Lott, along with Skylar Swanson and Alex Abdul.

Lizbeth Benacquisto The state Senator wasn’t on the ballot, but the Fort Myers Republican’s hustle to raise money and get out the vote in key districts proves once again why Benacquisto is consistently a go-to team player for Senate leadership. What’s next for her after the Senate?

Paul Renner — The future House Speaker is already trying to consolidate a power base. The Palm Coast Republican pushed for GOP’er Elizabeth Fetterhoff against a Democrat incumbent, for one example. 

Randy Fine — The GOP House member was statewide chair of Jewish outreach for DeSantis, introducing him twice before large Jewish audiences and three other times around the state. Some even think data will show that the Jewish vote ‘defected’ from its traditional Democratic-leaning, which helped put DeSantis over the top.

Jennifer Webb — The Democrat from Gulfport is the first married lesbian to head to Tallahassee as an elected representative. While the House’s openly gay membership is increasing, so are challenges to the LGBTQ constituency. Add in all the usual demands of a legislative session, and her work is cut out for her.

Reggie Cardozo, Janee Murphy — Makes new House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee look good, as more Democrats stock the Blue Team in the Florida House. Strongest gains came in Central Florida (where voter registration numbers favored D’s). Voter registration also favored Democrats in Tampa Bay, St. Pete, and Miami-Dade areas. The Democratic House Victory team delivered as well as, and some might say even more than, expected. 

Florida Chamber of Commerce — After recruiting pro-jobs candidates and investing more than $19 million in get-out-the-vote efforts, the Florida Chamber saw positive midterm election results. Voters backed 80 of 86 Florida Chamber-endorsed candidates, including the US Senate, Governor and Cabinet races, four supported constitutional amendments and 80 legislative races. As Florida Chamber Political Council Chair Will Weatherford has often said, if we want to get the policies right, first we have to get the politics right. While the election is over, our nation and state remain divided politically, but the Florida Chamber and its agenda are nonpartisan and good for Florida.

Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies — It elected one of their own to the Florida House, and their endorsed candidates won 19 out of 22 contests — with the potential for a 20th, depending on a recount. They credit the 6 million Florida homeowners, 18,000 community association managers, and 14,000 associations who stepped up and engaged in this election.

Josh Cooper — The opposition research consultant to Scott, DeSantis, Patronis, Gus Bilirakis and Ross Spano didn’t have a bad night. And have you tried his coconut and mango glazed mahi-mahi? Delish.

Consensus Communications — Tre’ Evers, John Sowinski, Dana Loncar, Christina Morton, Ryan Houck, Andrew Sutton, Janine Callovi, Dan Cunningham, all take a bow. From constitutional amendments to local initiatives, state and local candidates, over 100 TV ads across the country for campaigns out of state, they knocked it out of the proverbial park. 

Data Targeting — With wins in statewide, congressional and legislative races, what can’t these guys do?

Rick Porter, Heather Manso — The DeSantis Finance Director and Deputy Finance Director, respectively. These two solidified themselves as two of the top GOP fundraisers in the state, raising over $53 million for DeSantis. Wait. Hear that? That’s more knocks at their doors.

Clay Barker & the above mentioned Heather Manso — The new power couple. Clay “worked his butt off” on all of his races as he helped start an in-house mail. And of course Heather was DeSantis’ finance director. Looking good, you two.

Ana Cruz — She was the political wizard behind Janet Cruz’ headfirst plunge into the Senate District 18 race. Millions of dollars and countless nasty ads later, the exiting House Majority Leader looks like she’s set to become the only new Democratic state Senator. Assuming her razor-thin lead holds firm after a recount.

Jordan Gibson — Her digital firm Ello Creative worked for DeSantis, Caldwell, Patronis, Vance Aloupis, Chip LaMarca, and Rene “Coach P” Plasencia. In fact, she had DeSantis as a client since the 2016 race. And she had the Florida GOP for several years and throughout election.

Max Goodman — Goodman, the point man for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, did an Ernest Shackleton-level job of navigating, and surviving, what at one point seemed to be a tough re-election battle in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. Even during the weeks when yacht purchases and foreign loans dominated the headlines and shined a less-than-stellar light on his boss, Goodman kept his cool and helped earn another two years in Washington.

Max Herrle — Helped elect progressive Jeremy Matlow, owner of Gaines Street Pies, to the Tallahassee City Commission. Herrle, who chaired the political committee in support of Matlow’s candidacy, also lobbied for the “beer glass bill” on behalf of local restaurants last Session.

Brad Howard — Though the so-called “blue wave” didn’t hit Florida shores Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy didn’t need it in order hold on to Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Howard, her point man and chief of staff in DC, was a major part of Murphy’s successful defense of the Central Florida seat, which was considered to be the only flippable Democrat-held district in the Sunshine State.

Erin Isaac — In one of the most surprisingly hard-fought Congressional races in the state, bringing on Isaac was one of the best decisions soon-to-be CD 6 U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz could have made in his successful campaign. With her on board, the campaign forged a double-digit victory and kept the seat in Republican control despite being outspent by seven-figures in the coastal district.

Eric Johnson — It won’t matter how many of his other clients lost on Election Day, if he can help Nikki Fried pull off one of the greatest comebacks in political history, we’ll be buying him drinks — and his beloved Star Wars memorabilia — for the next year.

Brock Mikosky — Dover state Rep. Ross Spano was outgunned in the money race and was on the receiving end of an onslaught of (heavily exaggerated) accusations from his bitter Republican Primary rival, Neil Combee. Mikosky and the rest of Team Spano kept their heads down and persevered in the crowded August nominating contest, and on Tuesday they successfully denied Lakeland Democrat Kristin Carlson a big win in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which had been considered safe GOP country and ended up staying that way despite Carlson outraising and outspending Spano by a wide margin.

Zach Monahan — The Supernova Digital guru worked with over a dozen campaigns this cycle, from Matt Gaetz and Jeff Brandes to many of the high profile FRSCC races. Supernova had a great night. And Zach’s a helluva nice guy.

Chris Mitchell — A former political activist-turned-comms consultant, Chris headed up the digital, social media and A/V communications for a couple of the seats that flipped blue in Hillsborough County. His messaging was right on the money and was likely a difference maker in flipping both a county commission seat and state House seat.

Scott Parkinson — DeSantis’ congressional chief of staff is serving as deputy executive director of the transition, He’s also, shhh, in the mix for chief of staff after the boss is sworn in. He’s also an alumnus of the offices of GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

Evan Power — The Leon County Republican Party chief is angling to move up a rung and serve as the Republican Party of Florida’s next chairman, with his announcement likely to drop after the recounts are completed (whenever that is). If he wasn’t a front-runner on Monday, he certainly became the guy to beat on Tuesday night — his connex to the incoming DeSantis administration and the fresh batch of Cabinet members are unmatched among the current crop of would-be RPOF chairs.

Mac Stevenson — Months ago, Joe Gruters said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was a 100 percent turnover in the Sarasota delegation. There pretty much was, but thanks to the wizardry of Mac Stevenson, the county was able to keep the area’s seats in the GOP column. Some of the winning teams Stevenson was on: Gruters for state Senate, Kelli Stargel for state Senate, Greg Steube for Congress and Will Robinson for state House. Also, behind every great consultant is their partner, which in this case is Kelly Dowd.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network — The amendment banning offshore oil drilling and prohibiting vaping in the workplace (eww) passed with an overwhelming majority of votes. The top-notch team at Sachs Media Group worked with the ACS CAN to solidify this major victory – even though the polls had it on the fence before Election Day. As WLRN so eloquently put it, Floridians can no longer “vape on an oil rig looking back at Miami Beach.”

Strategic Image Management Yeah, they probably lost one or two more House races than they would have liked and their home turf of Hillsborough went decidedly blue, but Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo were brought in to win a key Senate race (Ed Hooper), while playing in so many other races it’s hard to keep count. As we mentioned before Piccolo was heavily involved in Moody’s win, while Pedicini seems to have elevated to the next level of consultant — TV and radio appearances, frequent quotes to reporters, etc.

Jason Unger — The GrayRobinson lawyer/lobbyist happens to chair the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. His co-worker, former Senate general counsel George Levesque, was general counsel to DeSantis. And main man Chris Spencer, also of GrayRobinson, was in on the ground floor of DeSantis’ campaign. Looking good to be in Unger’s shoes right about now.

Scott Ross — The Capital City Consulting lobbyist was the very first DeSantis supporter and adviser in Tallahassee when the rest of town was with Putnam. Ross predicted a DeSantis win when everyone thought he was crazy. Will Ross jump to a DeSantis administration? Can he afford to? Who cares. With his crystal ball, he’ll be in high demand either way.

Nick Iarossi — The Capital City Consulting co-founder was an early DeSantis supporter who helped secure the support of the Everglades Trust and the Everglades community. That was a key electoral issue during both the primary and the general. In addition, his firm helped raise DeSantis millions from clients Sheldon Adelson, Everglades supporters, and others.

Ron LaFace — The Tally lobbyist maintains solid positioning with the Cabinet. He served on Moody’s finance team and has been a political ally and friend of Ashley’s since they were in college together at UF. Yup, he’s gold.

Ballard Partners — It bears repeating: DeSantis is indebted to the power firm’s Susie Wiles for his win. Wiles will helm the transition, by the way. But that’s not the only Ballard boost to the winning campaign. Don’t forget former state Rep. Chris Dorworth who did debate prep for the GOP candidate, and Kathy San Pedro who acted as Jeanette Nunez’s body woman. Also close to Nunez is the firm’s Monica Rodriguez. Pretty soon, Brian’s face may be on the $100 bill. (We kid.) 

Florida Medical AssociationThe first group to endorse DeSantisTim Stapleton and Chris Clark did well. The doctors will have a good few years in Tallahassee, we think.

Mercury Public Affairs — Their campaign clients include Caldwell (Danielle Alvarez), Donna Shalala (Mike Hernandez), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (Hernandez), All for Transportation (Ashley Walker and J.D. White), and Amendment 4 (Alvarez, Walker and others did PR, digital strategy for the measure).

Naples Chamber of Commerce— Backed and won a local sales tax increase from 6 percent to 7 percent, which ends after seven years or after it rakes in $490 million, whichever comes first. New money will go toward “a variety of ambitious and backlogged projects,” according to NDN. (Don’t tell anyone, but pat on the back to Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, who worked on the initiative’s passage at “The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce,” its full name.)

Southern Strategy Group — In the case of the DeSantis campaign, more lobbyists from Southern Strategy Group’s Tallahassee office wrote personal checks to the DeSantis campaign than any other lobbying firm in that city, period. (And, they didn’t write any checks to Gillum.) You can bet they had DeSantis’s private cell number when other firms were still trying to remember his first name, which is why they will probably continue to be the highest-billing lobbying firm just as they were last quarter. With its lobbying team’s many decades of experience in government, they will be an important resource during the transition.

The Fiorentino Group — Northeast Florida’s premier lobbying firm continued its good run when a Jacksonville-area gubernatorial candidate won for the first time in decades. Couple that with their key legislative relationships (Galvano, Bradley, Gibson and Cummings) and the future looks bright — and (let’s be honest) lucrative.

Holland & Knight — Two of the firm’s alumni were elected to statewide office, DeSantis and Moody. And, if a recount results in gains for Nikki Fried, it might be three alumni.

The Rubin Group — Thefirm enjoyed one of the best overall election nights. Bill Rubin’s long-time close friend Rick Scott heads to the U.S. Senate; and the firm jumped on the DeSantis train with only a few others early in the process. Bill and Heather Turnbull have been Team Galvano since he was first elected to the House; and continue to be top supporters of his efforts throughout his career; as well as being one of the top fundraising firms for Senate Republicans. Of course the firm, with its expanded presence in Miami, was a major rainmaker for Jose Oliva and his slate of House candidates.)

All For Transportation — With Tampa Bay’s history of seeing transportation initiatives go down in flames, no one gave the All for Transportation team much of a chance to get on the ballot, much less win. Not only did they prove the haters wrong on both those counts, it did so with a resounding mandate from all corners of Hillsborough County. Props to AFT Chair Tyler Hudson and team members Christina Barker, Kevin Thurman, Rena Frazier, Brian Willis, Ryan Stitzlein, Eva Garvish, Scott Pollenz, Gwen Myers and Ebone Cruz.

The Waltz Warriors — Nancy Soderberg and her allies outspent Lt. Col. Michael Waltz 3-to-1 and he won CD 6 by nearly 13 points. Data Targeting’s Micah Ketchel spearheaded this one with young up-and-comer Hunter Wilkins on the ground as campaign manager. While public polling showed Soderberg within striking distance and pundits were calling this one a toss up, Tim Baker’s strategic guidance ran up the score for this decorated war hero. (Waltz has four bronze stars, two for valor.)

Sarah Fortney — The first ‘out’ lesbian was elected to the Polk County School Board. Making history and fighting for kids.

And finally … Dave Aronberg — The elected chief prosecutor of Palm Beach County just became the instant Democratic front-runner for 2022. Get ready, Dave.

Mixed Bag

Adam Corey — The lobbyist and entrepreneur did what he could, through expertly timed leaks of documents in an ongoing ethics investigation, to help ensure that his ex-friend Andrew Gillum lost his bid for Governor. You gotta feel mighty jilted to be that much of a d*ck.

Jose Oliva, Chris Sprowls — The next House Speaker, and the one in line after Renner, lost as many as seven seats on Tuesday, including both of their pet projects, Frank Mingo and Joe Wicker. Can’t win ’em all. 

Dan Newman — He lost Sean Shaw for Attorney General, but probably won Janet Cruz for Senate, assuming a recount goes her way. So, he’s even there.

Christian Ulvert — Goes from Levine campaign to Gillum campaign, both losers, but he helps Annette Taddeo hold on to her seat. Call it a wash.

School choice advocates — It’s a bittersweet symphony because they didn’t get Amendment 8 on the ballot. It was struck down by the courts. But their issue is still among the top items on the House GOP’s interest list.

NRA — The gun rights group backed Caldwell, Waltz, Spano, and won, but weirdly opposed Amendment 13 banning dog racing, which won anyway. The line was that banning greyhound racing could mean an end to hunting and fishing. Huh? Confusing, and voters didn’t buy it.

Parkland students — All due respect: Did they really matter in this election? Discuss.

Elnatan Rudolph — The text message guy that really helped DeSantis — even if he annoyed the hell out of us.

Biggest Loser

Florida Democratic Party — Proved yet again their ineptitude at running candidates who’d be capable of winning on the state level. When the buzzword of the night in most House districts that flipped was “centrist,” the hapless Dems doubled down on stupid by running a $2.98 Bernie Bro. When will they learn that the far-left message that plays well in New York and San Francisco faceplants badly in the rest of the country?


Broward County — A pox on Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes for holding up e-night results. Send in Ion Sancho. He’s tanned, rested, and ready.

Peter Schorsch’s prediction — We sneaked this one in while Peter wasn’t looking, but how in the hell did he end up with Gillum winning by seven points? Had he had too many dirty martinis when he laid down that bet? Please, boss, tell us you didn’t put the payroll down on that marker. 

Public polling — We’re not going to blame them for the fake news they produce. Here’s our new strategy: We’re going to blame all the people they talk to who outright lie to them for fun to gig the poll results. Because how else do you explain this years’ serial disasters in polling? Can you?

Tom Steyer — The billionaire Democratic supporter bet big and lost bad (pending a recount). He is the definition of throwing good money after bad.

Audrey Gibson — The Senate’s top Democrat didn’t flip her chamber despite hints she could and would. Better luck in the 2019 Session. Bill filing time will be here before you know it.

Kevin Cate — There was Charlie Crist. Now, Sean Shaw and Andrew Gillum. The Democratic communications savant better have another rabbit to pull out of his “TLH” hat.

Sean Pittman — The longtime Gillum backer put all his money, so to speak, on a long shot. Oh well. He gets to return to a lucrative lobbying practice and the adoration of his community. The guy’s been on billboards in Tallahassee, true story. 

Matt Isbell — We said it before, we’ll say it again: The Democrats’ data and maps guy sold fool’s gold about the Florida Senate flipping. At least he still has a funny Twitter feed.

David Jolly — The former Republican and former Congressman said he voted against DeSantis because he served with him in Congress. How’s that workin’ out for ya? That, and being a key Never Trump’er in a Trump-y state.

Steve Schale — We loved his “Memos” in the run-up before the election, but at the end of the day, we’re not Jaguars fans and Steve was just on the wrong side of history this year. 

Florida Justice AssociationJeff Porter and FJA made a calculated decision to stop playing footsie with the Senate Republicans and went all in with Democrats on six seats (supposedly) in play. They lost all but one, and maybe that one too. And Galvano will remember.

Greyhound industry — It’s curtains for the state association, including its lobbyist Jack Cory, lawyers Jeff Kottkamp and Paul Hawkes, and all the breeders, owners, trainers and others in dog racing who will be out of a job in the next couple of years as racing winds down. Good luck, guys. 

Pari-mutuels — With the gambling amendment’s passage, that makes it all the more onerous to open more gambling in the state. Interests like bestbet, MGM, Big Easy Casino, will suffer.

Jimmy Buffett — BuzzFeed News’ Joe Bernstein‏ won Twitter with this: “I’m currently 200 comments deep in a very affecting Facebook post about Trump supporters who are emotionally renouncing Jimmy Buffett after he endorsed Andrew Gillum.”

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.9.18

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

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

While you are waiting for the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to finish counting ballots, please check out our list of the winners and losers emerging from the 2018 election cycle.

If you’re in Tampa today, hungry for breakfast and want an analysis of the 2018 midterm elections, come out to Café con Tampa.

Florida Politics’ Peter Schorsch will present “WTF Just Happened?? A Post-Election Analysis.”

That’s 8 a.m. Friday, Upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

The cost is $12, collected at the door, and that includes the breakfast buffet.

Here’s the fine print from the organizers:

“If you are a student or grassroots community leader and can’t afford $12, please talk to us about a scholarship to cover your meal. We want everyone to feel welcome.”

Also, “due to construction across the street, there is limited parking at Oxford Exchange. Please check here for updates.

“In the spirit of urbanism, we encourage you to walk or ride using resources from the Tampa Downtown Partnership and Walk Bike Tampa.”

For more information about Café con Tampa, follow them on Twitter here or visit their Facebook page here.


— @EWErickson: Just to be clear, you can have an acting Attorney General. See e.g. Sally Yates. But you cannot have an acting AG who had not been through a confirmation process for an AG position. Yates was confirmed as a Deputy AG. Whitaker has not.

@Conarck: Man, just wait until the governor finds out about the public records response times at some of his state agencies.

— @AndrewGillum: Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy. Count every vote.

— @MDixon55: Gillum conceded on election night. Media didn’t call it, just reported the concession speech and call to DeSantis. In fact, I don’t think AP made a formal call in the race at all.

— @ChrisMurphyCT: Republicans will try to use the courts to shut down a full recount. Just get ready for this — adjust your schedules bc we may all have to get down to Florida if they try to use the courts to stop all ballots from being counted.

— @MarcoRubio#Broward election supervisors ongoing violation of #Florida law requiring timely reporting isn’t just annoying incompetence. It has opened the door for lawyers to come here & try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate & Florida Cabinet

— @Scott_Maxwell: Just to be clear: You can want every vote counted AND think the Broward elections office is a dumpster fire.

— @HaroldItz: Next up in Florida: county officials look for ballots between sofa cushions throughout the state.

—@Grimm_Fred: Growing fear that a caravan of savage election lawyers are set on invading Florida

— @ProfPolitics: Our nation can map DNA, target a missile to anywhere in the world, and see into the far universe, but Broward County still can’t tell us how many votes are out in a Florida election?

— @LRozen: If Florida were another country, would US be calling for UN-administered elections?

— @LBarszewski: Overheard Sen. Gary Farmer on the phone at the Broward elections office: “They actually just found some Al Gore votes.”

— @RalstonReports: As hard as it is for me to admit, looking at this stuff in FL, it’s hard to argue NV is nuttier. I mean, we elected a dead pimp to an Assembly seat but they have shenanigans in the gov and Senate races. #FloridaMatters



How Bill Nelson could ultimately win the recount in Florida’s Senate race” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Broward County, where Nelson received 68.9 percent of the votes, was still counting early voting, vote-by-mail and Election Day ballots. Palm Beach County, where Nelson received 58.4 percent of the votes, was still counting vote-by-mail ballots. If the breakdown of these pending ballots is anything close to the results so far, Nelson should pick up more votes than Scott. But no one has been able to say how many uncounted ballots remain, not even Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes. In Broward County, 695,799 people turned in ballots. But only 665,688 voted in the Senate race. That’s a 30,000 difference, a remarkable disparity given the stakes in this race and the name-recognition of these officials. It’s a degree of undervote that is nonexistent in the other statewide races on the ballot. For example, more than 690,000 people voted in the governor’s race. If the results as they stand are accurate, more people voted for Agriculture Commissioner than U.S. Senate. So what happened? It’s not clear.

There could be a path to victory for Bill Nelson.

Scott sues Broward County elections chief, citing concern of ‘rampant fraud’” via Skyler Swisher and Gray Rohrer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In a news conference at the governor’s mansion, Scott questioned how “votes are coming out of nowhere” in Democratic-leaning Broward and Palm Beach counties. He said he had ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. He blasted Palm Beach elections chief Susan Bucher and Broward elections head Brenda Snipes for what he called “incompetence.” “The people of Florida deserve fairness and transparency, and the supervisors are failing to give it to us,’’ Scott said. “Every Floridian should be concerned that there may be rampant fraud happening in Palm Beach and Broward counties.’’

As Florida recounts loom, flawed ballot design may be to blame for questionable voting patterns in Broward County” via Stephen Hobbs, Skyler Swisher and Aric Chokey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — More than 24,900 Broward residents voted for Florida governor but not for U.S. senator, a figure far larger than the margin separating the two Senate candidates, according to county results updated Thursday evening. The Sun Sentinel found similar discrepancies in other statewide races, where the vote tallies suggest that thousands of voters made the unlikely choice to vote on lower-profile races and bypass the Senate race — a marquee contest and the first one on the ballot. This unusual pattern appears in no other Florida county. In other Florida counties, the tallies reflect results that would be expected, with more voters weighing in on the Senate race than in statewide races of lesser stature.

Teacher reports finding ballot box left behind at Broward polling place” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lakeisha Sorey says she discovered a locked ballot box at Sunshine Elementary School in Miramar. Sorey said she found the box about 3 p.m. Thursday, in the same area where voting had been held, and knew not to meddle with it. “I didn’t want to touch it,” Sorey said. Seeking help, Sorey phoned her friend, State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a close confidante of gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Jones called the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office, and a woman there told him the box was probably full of blank ballots, he said. If that’s the case, Jones is questioning why the box is locked. Jones said he was worried the box might contain ballots that are not being counted.

Whoops: Teacher finds a locked provisional ballot box in a Broward school. (Image via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Recount totals from Hillsborough canvassing Board: 369 ballots accepted, 284 rejected” via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times — The problems included voters in the wrong precinct, different signatures, voters who moved out of the county, no voter ID and not being registered. There were also six early voters who tried to vote twice, but not because of voter fraud, said Gerri Kramer, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. After the meeting, officials began scanning those ballots approved into the system. The board will meet again at 3:30 to review about 850 more ballots. But thousands of votes remained uncounted. And over the next 36 hours, the margins gradually shrank.

Recount looms in Ag Commissioner as Nikki Fried seizes lead” via Florida Politics — Democrat Nikki Fried now holds the leads over Republican Matt Caldwell in tabulated votes in the Agriculture Commissioner race. Caldwell held an edge from Tuesday night through Thursday afternoon, but as votes slowly trickled in, most notably thousands of early and vote-by-mail votes in Democratic-leaning Broward County, the candidates’ totals inched closer together by the hour. “Since the first returns came in on election night, we have said that seeing through this process to the end, ensuring every vote is counted, so the voices of Floridians are heard, and their will is respected — is the top priority,” Fried said.

As a recount looms, Nikki Fried pulls ahead in the Agriculture Commissioner race.

Marco Rubio warns of Dem lawyers ‘descending on Florida’ to ‘try and steal’ key statewide races” via Gregg Re of Fox News — Rubio charged that two Democrat-controlled counties in the state, in possible violation of election law, have been reporting a “slow drip” of tens of thousands of additional ballots favorable to several Democratic candidates for statewide office … Liberal lawyers, Rubio said in an extraordinary series of tweets that alleged incompetence if not outright complicity by Florida officials, are “descending on” the state in a calculated attempt to “change the results” and “try and steal” races for Senate and Agriculture Commissioner. “Florida law requires counties report early voting & vote-by-mail within 30 minutes after polls close,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “43 hours after polls closed 2 Democrat strongholds #BrowardCounty & #PalmBeachCounty are still counting & refusing to disclose how many ballots they have left to count.”

Florida’s provisional ballots may lean Democratic — but there aren’t many” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Provisionals typically make up a tiny fraction of the overall votes cast. In the 2016 general election, voters cast 9.6 million ballots. Provisional ballots made up about one-ninth of one percent — 10,998. In the last midterm, there were 6 million votes, and again, about one-ninth of one percent were provisional. That meant 7,199 provisional ballots counted. Though those margins are tiny overall, they provide a glimmer of hope for trailing candidates whose last chance will be a recount this weekend. With more than 8.2 million votes counted by Thursday, it’s clear this election is much closer to 2016 turnout levels than 2014. It would be reasonable to think there are somewhere near 9,000 or 10,000 provisional ballots that will count.

Andrew Gillum campaign offices pressed into service as provisional ballot war rooms” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Volunteers were using the campaign offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miramar and Plantation to reach out to people who cast provisional ballots in the midterm election … People get provisional ballots if, for some reason, they couldn’t cast a regular ballot on Election Day. Say, for example, someone didn’t have the proper identification or wasn’t listed as a resident of the precinct. In close races, such as the contests for governor, U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner, provisional ballots could make a difference in the outcome. The Florida Democratic Party got lists of people who cast provisional ballots late Wednesday. Overnight, those names were matched with databases to try to come up with phone numbers and other contact information. Volunteers, recruited overnight, started at the three offices, where they are making calls, sending text messages, and going out to try to track down the people who cast provisional ballots.

Vote-by-mail status doesn’t say ‘tabulated?’ It’s probably OK.” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — Several absentee voters have looked for the status of their mail ballots online only to find words other than “tabulated.” Supervisors of elections in Tampa Bay say nothing nefarious is happening. If there were a problem with a mail ballot, the voter would likely know by now. “When the message says ‘received’ without any other information (e.g., an issue with your ballot) you’re good to go,” Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley wrote in an email. “If there was an issue, we would have also reached out to you.” The website status for mail voters is scheduled to change from “received” to “tabulated” three days after the election.

Tweet, tweet:


Ron DeSantis ‘focused on the transition’ as recount likely” via the News Service of Florida — “I was honored Tuesday night to be elected 46th Governor of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said in a statement. “The results of the election were clear. I am now focused on the transition effort and will allow the legal efforts regarding the election to proceed, as is necessary, as the process unfolds.” Amid a focus on Palm Beach and Broward counties as ballots continue to be counted, DeSantis’ lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum fell below 40,000 votes Thursday afternoon, putting it within the 0.5 percent margin that triggers a machine recount. Gillum conceded the race in a phone call Tuesday night, when the unofficial results put DeSantis up by about 78,000 votes from among the 8.2 million ballots cast. But Thursday morning, as the margin narrowed, Gillum’s campaign said it made the call Tuesday “with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count.”


Scott beat Nelson by only one vote in the Keys. His environmental record almost cost him.” Via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — After the votes were tallied in the Florida Keys, exactly one vote gave Gov. Scott a victory over incumbent Sen. Nelson. Scott: 18,021 votes. Nelson: 18,020 votes. That’s according to the Monroe County Elections Department … Keys voters have been lukewarm on Scott, who has faced fierce criticism from environmentalists, Democrats and even Republicans for many of his environmental policies during his two terms in office. In his first year as governor, Scott demanded that the state’s five water management districts slash their budgets by $700 million. During Scott’s successful re-election campaign in 2014 against Charlie Crist, he lost the Keys vote by five percentage points. Republicans in the Keys, where fishing, diving, paddling and sailing are ways of life, are known to vote with a candidate’s environmental record in mind.

Rick Scott won the Florida Keys by a single vote, mostly because of voters angered by a perceived poor environmental record.

DeSantis won Governor’s race in red counties with big turnout” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — The former three-term congressman built such large leads in reliably Republican swathes of Florida that he was able to overcome Gillum’s impressive showing. The Tallahassee Mayor won every major metro area, flipped four counties that Trump won in 2016 and received more votes than Scott did winning the office in 2010 and 2014. Gillum flipped four Trump counties: Pinellas, Duval, Seminole and St. Lucie. But the “blue” momentum crashed against the DeSantis red wall when polls closed. Even without Republican stronghold counties in the Panhandle devastated by Michael that was unable to deliver big turnouts, DeSantis still edged out Gillum.

—“Special forces: How Mike Waltz defeated the national left” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics

Catherine Price concedes to Ben Albritton No one will accuse Price, a Democrat, of giving up too early. She waited until Thursday to release a video and blast a news release conceding the state Senate race in District 26 to the Republican Albritton. “I support the orderly functioning of our government and our elected officials,” she said, while congratulating her opponent and encouraging his to get out into the district to meet constituents. A lengthy video encouraged the Republican to seek out dissenting views on issues like charter schools and a broad range of other matters. Of course, the video came out pretty late, considering Albritton won his election by more than 30 percent of the vote, taking every county in the district.

An army of Democratic volunteers is changing the politics in historically red Seminole County” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Rob Bial, chairman of the Seminole County Democratic Party, said he started “doing the happy dance” after seeing the results of Tuesday’s elections. Across the board, every one of his party’s candidates in Seminole either won or performed better than expected in a county that has been dominated by Republicans for decades. Another piece of positive news for the party was the performance of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum, who received just over 50 percent of the votes cast in Seminole, more than Republican Ron DeSantis, who won the race statewide. In the weeks after the 2016 general election, hundreds of people began turning out to Seminole Democratic Party meetings asking how to volunteer. By early this year, the party had an army of volunteers that numbered well into the hundreds, willing to walk the pavement, party officials said.

Anna Eskamani’s fame is rising — in Iran” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic state Rep.-elect Eskamani has been no stranger to national media coverage throughout her campaign, and now her election in House District 47 Tuesday also is drawing the attention of Iranian media and international media broadcasting into Iran. She’s become a hot get for Iranian media, starting Tuesday night while she was still celebrating her victory over Republican Stockton Reeves. She’s done a half-dozen or so interviews since with Iranian media plus a live interview Wednesday on BBC News Persian, and another with Public Radio International, both broadcast into Iran and to Iranians living worldwide. It seems people in Iran want to know, as she said one Iranian news medium headlined its story: “Who is this Persian girl, Anna Eskamani?”

Anna Eskamani’s victory in HD 47 boosted her popularity here and piqued curiosity in Iran.

Health care is not an elixir for Florida Democrats” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Florida Democrats pushed health care as a top priority during this year’s elections, hammering Republicans for attempts to repeal Obamacare and the potential loss of insurance protections for people with pre-existing conditions. After Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum and other candidates for statewide offices were defeated, the “blue wave” looks more like a blue puddle, with health care not giving the Democratic Party the shot in the arm it wanted. Alan Levine, a key health care adviser to former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, said while numerous polls indicated that health care was a top concern with the voters, the words “health care” mean different things to different people. “When you looked at polling, health care ranked second or third, but you don’t know what that means. To some people, the issue of health care is being very upset because their premiums cost so much,” said Levine. “To others, it’s that they don’t have access.”


Post-Michael search efforts end as insurance claims mount” via Florida Politics — Search and recovery teams have completed their survey of the Hurricane Michael disaster zone, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced Thursday. Meanwhile, the number of Michael-related insurance claims reached 117,259, worth nearly $2.75 billion — and “this number will grow,” Patronis’ office said in an update on its storm response. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the amazing strides these resilient communities have made toward recovery,” said Patronis, who serves as state fire marshal. Of those insurance claims, 3,132 were on policies issued by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort. Some 93,108 licensed and appointed adjusters were in the field, plus 3,642 emergency adjusters.


Deadline set in Florida-Georgia ‘water war’” via the News Service of Florida — Florida and Georgia will have until the end of January to file new arguments in the legal fight over water use impacting the Apalachicola River system, a special master said this week. Paul J. Kelly, a senior judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who is serving as a special master, set a Jan. 31 deadline for the initial briefs and a Feb. 28 deadline for reply briefs. Kelly denied Florida’s request for additional evidence-gathering in the case, which focuses on Florida’s assertion that Georgia’s over-consumption of water in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system is harming the Apalachicola region.

The Florida-Georgia water wars now face a federal deadline.

EAA reservoir: water district board OKs leasing project’s land to sugar grower” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The South Florida Water Management District extended the lease on land to be used for the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The lease with New Hope Sugar Co., a subsidiary of Florida Crystals, that would have expired at the end of March now will extend until March 31, 2027. But provisions allow the district to take parts or all the land back, with four months notice, for construction of the reservoir. Noting the extension proposal was not announced until Wednesday night, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, told board members he and Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis wanted to be briefed on the proposal before its approval “to make sure we’re not adding additional hurdles to the project.” Still, the board voted unanimously, with member Daniel O’Keefe abstaining, to approve the lease extension.

Supreme Court scuttles case on firefighter raises” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court reversed itself and dismissed a challenge to Gov. Scott’s 2015 veto of pay raises for state firefighters. The court in January said it would take up an appeal by the International Association of Firefighters Local S-20 and heard arguments in August. But in a 4-3 ruling, the court said its decision to rule in the case had been “improvidently granted” and ordered dismissal. The firefighter’s union took the case to the Supreme Court after the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Scott’s veto of $2,000 pay raises did not violate collective-bargaining rights. The veto followed a series of events that included a bargaining impasse on a union request for $1,500 pay raises for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, according to the appeals court.

Supreme Court takes a battle over public schools” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — An attorney for the group Citizens for Strong Schools asked the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that rejected the lawsuit. Attorney Jodi Siegel said the case should be sent back to a circuit judge to apply standards that would properly determine whether the state is meeting the constitutional requirements. “We have current standards and current measurements that are showing significant disparities,” Siegel said. “We had 670,000 children that are failing reading. So this is not a child or two. This is a systemic failure.” But Rocco Testani, an attorney for the state, argued that the Supreme Court should uphold the lower-court decision. Testani also said the state had made changes since 1998 that have led to significant improvements in the public school system. “It has been successful, it has worked,” Testani said. “It is not a system that anyone should be concerned is broken.”

Court upholds 1,000-year sentences in juvenile attacks” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A divided Florida Supreme Court upheld simultaneous 1,000-year prison sentences for a man who was convicted of what the court described as “brutally” assaulting women when he was juvenile in 1983. Arthur O’Derrell Franklin, who was convicted in three Duval County cases of armed kidnapping, kidnapping, armed sexual battery, sexual battery, armed robbery, robbery and aggravated assault, could be eligible for parole in 2352 — when he would be about 387 years old. But the Supreme Court ruling focused heavily on how justices should carry out U.S. Supreme Court decisions in recent years that treat juvenile offenders differently from adults who commit crimes. A landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in a case known as Graham v. Florida, said that life sentences for juveniles who commit non-homicide crimes must be accompanied by “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation” before the end of the sentence.

Florida Supreme Court says Arthur O’Derrell Franklin will remain serving multiple thousand-year prison sentences.

Beach access debate lands in Pinellas court” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Two homeowners are suing their town over beach access, highlighting ongoing confusion sparked by a new state law making it harder for local governments to guarantee public rights to Florida’s sand. The lawsuit filed recently by Pamela Greacen and Arthur L. Buser Jr. zeros in on an ordinance Redington Beach commissioners unanimously passed in June. The ordinance affirms “customary use,” or the long-standing use of dry sand for public recreation, including on private property. The state estimates about 60 percent of the state’s beaches are privately owned, encompassing the dry sand upland from the mean high-water line. Greacen and Buser contend in their lawsuit that their town’s ordinance flies in the face of the law and infringes on the town’s private beaches, including the dry sand behind their $2.1 million home.

Brightline submits only proposal for Orlando-Tampa train line” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Transportation announced that Brightline, which initiated the process by submitting an unsolicited proposal in June, was the only company to have responded after the department opened to other potential companies’ proposals with requests for proposals the department issued in June. Wednesday was the deadline for proposal submission. The department is looking for a proposal that would put in an intercity passenger train line that would lease and use highway rights of way owned by the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

Orange County Convention Center re-ups deal with Centerplate” via Florida Politics — Centerplate has been the Orange County Convention Center’s exclusive food-service provider for a decade and based on its performance, the Orange County Commission voted in favor of keeping the company around for another decade-plus. It certainly didn’t hurt Centerplate’s chances to have GrayRobinson’s Chris Carmody and Robert Stuart Jr. in their corner — the pair has served as the point men for Centerplate since the 2008 contract battle, which ended up getting the Connecticut-based corporation into the convention center and booting Levy restaurants out of it. Getting the win took some hard work, though the GrayRobinson duo didn’t exactly have to make that hard of a sell to the Commission. The food-service provider has been an impeccable steward over the past decade, producing stellar results not only for the convention center, but for theirs and the county’s bottom line. And those returns exceeded the county’s projections by a country mile.

Citrus forecast sees small decrease” via the News Service of Florida — A federal forecast of Florida’s citrus crop dipped slightly from October to November, according to numbers released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projected the state’s growers would fill 84.6 million 90-pound boxes — a standard measurement — over the next eight months, nearly 3 percent less than forecast in October. Mark Hudson, a state statistician for the department, said the estimate dropped, in part, because citrus grown this year on average has been smaller than in past years. The current projection has the state filling 77 million boxes of oranges, 6.4 million boxes of grapefruit and 1.2 million boxes of tangerines and tangelos.

Surterra cuts ribbon on new Palm Bay Wellness Center — The medical cannabis provider held a grand opening this week of its newest Palm Bay Wellness Center, its 13th such facility in the state. “This is our lucky number thirteenth,” shared Kim Hawkes, Senior Manager, Government & Public Relations at Surterra Wellness. “We are so excited to provide care for the Space Coast and are happy to call Palm Bay home.” The new Wellness Center is at 6295 Minton Road NE, Palm Bay.

Supporters and Chamber of Commerce leaders cut the ribbon on the latest Surterra Wellness Center in Palm Bay, the 13th facility in Florida.

Personnel note: Sadaf Knight, Holly Bullard to lead Florida Policy Institute — The institute’s Board of Directors announced that Knight was chosen to lead the organization as a chief executive officer. The board also announced Bullard was selected as chief strategy and operations officer. Knight has over 10 years of experience in public policy research, advocacy and nonprofit management, previously serving as vice president of policy and research at Carolina Small Business Development Fund. Bullard previously served as senior director of Financial Stability Initiatives at United Way Suncoast, where she oversaw the planning and implementation of financial stability programs, strategies and collaboratives in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota/Manatee areas. “There were many exceptional candidates, but Sadaf and Holly stood out,” Board Chair Mireya Eavey said.

Personnel note: David Straz names Jarrod Holbrook as communications director — Straz, a candidate for Tampa Mayor, tapped Holbrook to lead comms for his campaign on Thursday. “I am delighted to add a professional of the caliber of Jarrod Holbrook to our team,” Straz said. “Jarrod has dedicated his career to holding those in positions of power accountable as an investigative reporter. He will help me communicate my specific plans for Tampa’s future.” Holbrook is an award-winning journalist, in television news since 1999, most recently in Tampa. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. “My passion is to create positive change in the communities I care about, and I believe working for David Straz in his mayoral campaign will allow me to continue that mission,” he said.


Tampa Bay rallies held to protect Robert Mueller’s Russia probe” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. Last year Sessions recused himself from overseeing the Robert Mueller probe, which has been a constant source of anger from the president. The president then appointed Sessions’ chief of staff, Matt Whitaker, to run the Justice Department on an interim basis. Whitaker has made comments skeptical of the Mueller probe. Critics fear he will move to limit the investigation or attempt to end it altogether. That fear sparked rallies across the country in support of Mueller, including in downtown St. Petersburg. Several hundred people gathered in South Straub Park. It was an older crowd, and many held signs deriding Trump or supporting Mueller. “Donald Trump, you will not keep us from knowing the truth, whatever the truth is,” said rally organizer Andrea Hildebran Smith of the activist group Floridians Against Corruption and Treason. “We are a democracy; we are all equal under the law.”


Preserve diversity on the Florida Supreme Court” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Interviews conclude Friday for the 59 candidates who want a seat on the Florida Supreme Court, which will decide issues critical to all Floridians for decades. With the court’s two female justices and one African-American justice set to retire, the panel screening the candidates should commit to maintaining diversity on the state’s highest court. Florida is becoming a younger, more colorful place all the time, and the state Supreme Court should reflect that diversity. The three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court will be filled by judges who could sit on the court for a generation, deciding cases with a far-reaching impact on issues including privacy, criminal justice, education equity and women’s health. To be frank, they should not be decided by seven white men but by a panel of justices who represent and reflect all Floridians.


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with state Sen. Darryl Rouson, USF Tampa Emeritus professor of Government and International Affairs Dr. Susan McManus; political consultant Adam Goodman; and Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s show will discuss mental health treatments and available options for veterans. Joining Walker-Torres are Florida state Sens. David Simmons and Victor Torres; and Gregg Laskoski of K9 Partners for Patriots Inc.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A review of Tuesday night’s 2018 General Election that saw several races decided by razor-thin margins, the latest on the results and where things stand now.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will speak with Dara Kam, political reporter for the News Service of Florida.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Justice will speak with former City of Jacksonville Chief of Staff Chris Hand, Republican political strategist Bert Ralston and the leadership of Kids Hope Alliance Jacksonville leadership: CEO Joseph Peppers; COO Mary Tobin; and Kevin Gay, KHA board chair.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will discuss this week’s midterm elections.

— ALOE —

Lauren Book named Glamour magazine Women of the Year as a ‘Hero Among Us’ — For her efforts to increase education and awareness of child sexual abuse prevention throughout the country and the world, state Sen. Book will be honored at the Glamour magazine annual Women of the Year Summit and Awards Ceremony in New York City. On Monday the plantation Democrat will receive the L’Oreal Paris/Glamour “Heroes Among Us” Award, at the Women of the Year Awards ceremony. This award honors those who have showcased resilience and perseverance, found beauty in their cause and selflessly gave their time to empower others. The day before the award, book take part in a Glamour Women of the Year Summit onstage panel discussion focusing on resilience and perseverance. The panel will feature fellow former L’Oreal Paris Woman of Worth honoree and human trafficking survivor Lisa Williams, moderated by a Glamour editor. In December 2013, Book received the L’Oreal National Woman of Worth for her advocacy work on childhood sexual abuse.

Activist and state Sen. Lauren Book is receiving even more accolades, this time named Glamour magazine Women of the Year.

Disney’s Bob Iger calls Star Wars ‘the biggest lands that we’ve ever built’” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — “We think they are going to have a major impact,” Iger said during an earnings call after The Walt Disney Co. posted a strong fourth quarter that beat Wall Street expectations. Spurring the exchange, an analyst had asked Iger if he thought Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be “bigger than Pandora? Is it as big as Cars Land?” “These are the biggest lands that we’ve ever built in both cases — not only are they big in size and scale, they are huge in ambition,” Iger said. Star Wars’ popularity in Disneyland could pose “some interesting challenges on our hands to manage that demand, but that’s a good problem to have,” said Iger, calling Star Wars “clearly the biggest thing we’ve ever done at Disneyland since it opened in 1955.”

’Hamilton’ in Puerto Rico: How to get tickets to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s return” via Todd Stewart of the Orlando Sentinel — Tickets to the shows, from Jan. 8 to Jan. 27, 2019, go on sale at 8 a.m. EST on Saturday at (and in-person at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus). Miranda, the son of Puerto Rican parents, has said all profits from the performances will go to The Flamboyan Arts Fund, an initiative working to revive and grow arts and culture as the island continues to rebuild post-Hurricane Maria.

Happy birthday to state Sen. Dana Young. For your birthday, we’d love to give you a bouquet of provisional ballots.

Last Call for 11.8.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

First off, from the Florida Politics Recount Desk, as of 5:45 p.m.:

Governor’s race

Ron DeSantis: 4,069,471 votes

Andrew Gillum: 4,030,947

Margin: DeSantis +0.047 percent

U.S. Senate race

Bill Nelson: 4,074,119

Rick Scott: 4,091,457

Margin: Scott +0.22 percent

Agriculture Commissioner’s race

Matt Caldwell: 4,018,497

Nikki Fried: 4,019,073

Margin: Fried +0.007 percent

Under Florida law, machine recounts are automatically required if the winning margin is 0.5 percent or less. If the margin after that recount is 0.25 percent or less, there is a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes.

Grouse all you want about recounts; they’re good business for reporters — and lawyers.

And with recounts in three statewide races now — Agriculture Commissioner, Governor and U.S. Senator — business should be relatively booming.

Those of us with an intersection in law and journalism were braced to see this headline, “Recount Push by Bill Nelson Is First Sign of New Business for Law Firms,” in our “Daily Business Review Afternoon Update.”

The story, of course, mentions Perkins Coie’s Marc Elias, chair of the firm’s “political law” group, now representing incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

Greenberg Traurig’s Barry Richard, George W. Bush’s lawyer during the 2000 recount legal drama in Tallahassee, is repping Andrew Gillum.

But the election “began creating new legal business for Washington lawyers long before the votes were finalized nationwide.

“Control of the U.S. House changed hands to Democrats, Republicans expanded their majority in the U.S. Senate, and lawyers moved quickly to capitalize on the nation’s new divided legislative branch before the counting was done,” the story said.

Here, here.

Evening Reads

Democrats rack up more gains in House as key tight races are called” via Alex Seitz-Wald of NBC News

Florida readies for massive recount” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Marco Rubio on recount: Broward, Palm Beach failed to follow law” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Bill Nelson’s recount attorney claims vote gains in recent days show Nelson can win; Recount could be called Saturday” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

Nikki Fried takes lead in Agriculture Commissioner race” via Samantha Gross of the Times/Herald

Is this just how Florida elections are? The navel-gazing begins (again) for the Florida Democratic Party” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

Could Broward ballot design have cost Florida’s Senate race 24,000 votes?” via Mark Skoneki of the Sun Sentinel

Vote-by-mail status doesn’t say ‘tabulated?’ It’s probably OK.” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times

The political sway of Florida’s 1.5M voting felons is up for grabs, experts say” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

How Vern Buchanan sailed to victory in CD 16” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Donald Trump shows no love for Carlos ‘Quebella’” via The News Service of Florida

Northeast Florida made Ron DeSantis happen, and its payoff is coming” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Anna Eskamani’s fame is rising — in Iran” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Health care not an elixir for Florida Democrats” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida

After Parkland tragedy, Florida failed to address its biggest school security threat: depressed kids” via Noah Pransky of WTSP

Quote of the Day

“Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount. Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.” — Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights


Wake Up Early?

Florida Politics’ Peter Schorsch will present “WTF Just Happened?? A Post-Election Analysis” at Café con Tampa. The cost, which includes the breakfast buffet, is $12 at the door. Arrive early; parking is limited. That’s at 8 a.m., Upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will finish interviewing candidates for three seats that will open on the Supreme Court in January. That’s at 9 a.m., Airport Executive Center, 2203 North Lois Ave., Tampa.

The Economic Estimating Conference will analyze issues related to the national economy at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.8.18

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 –  The races for Florida Governor, U.S. Senate, and Agriculture Commissioner all tightened, perhaps significantly.

Bill Nelson now trails Rick Scott by just 21,899 votes (0.26 percent), while Andrew Gillum is now down 42,498 votes to Ron DeSantis. That’s a margin of 0.52 percent, meaning it’s increasingly likely that race will also have to be recounted. Democrats really shouldn’t get their hopes up in either of those races.

However, in the race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried is now just 4,109 votes behind Matt Caldwell. She started Wednesday down just over 12,000 votes. Several Democratic consultants and election lawyers now believe Fried will pass by Caldwell by the time election results are certified.

Alright, alright, alright. We are getting back to business.

The day after the midterm election, incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva announced his lieutenants and major committee chairs.

Jose Oliva waited until the House was securely in Republican hands, before announcing committee heads.

Clearly, the Miami Lakes Republican had these sussed out before the election but first needed to ensure the party’s hold on the chamber.

Here’s a look at the names by, for a twist, focusing on each pick’s “recreational interests”:

— Speaker Pro Tempore MaryLynn Magar: “boating, golf, softball mom.”

— Majority Leader Dane Eagle: “boating, fishing, fitness.”

— Appropriations Chair Travis Cummings: “attending sporting events, boating, jogging, spending time with family.”

— Commerce Chair Mike La Rosa: (none listed).

— Economic Affairs Chair Bryan Avila: “exercising, playing sports, reading, spending time with family, traveling.”

— Education Committee Chair Jennifer Sullivan: “biking, deep sea fishing, kayaking, running.”

— Health & Human Services Chair Ray Rodrigues: (none listed).

— Judiciary Chair Paul Renner: “reading, sports, travel.”

— Public Integrity & Ethics Chair Tom Leek: “boating, college football, fishing.”

— Rules Chair Chris Sprowls: “boating, cycling, tennis, traveling.”

— State Affairs Chair Blaise Ingoglia: (none listed).

— Ways & Means Chair Halsey Beshears: (none listed).


@NancyPelosi: It is impossible to read Attorney General Sessions’ firing as anything other than another blatant attempt by @realDonaldTrump to undermine & end Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation.

@ClintSmithIII: jeff sessions is the only confederate monument trump was willing to take down

@Rob_Bradley: In all seriousness, the resignation of Jeff Sessions is a positive step toward real cannabis reform at the federal level.

—@Acosta: Trump @PressSec confirms that White House has suspended the hard pass of a reporter because it doesn’t like the way he does his job. This is something I’ve never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.

—@JebBush: The media is not the enemy of the people. The freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution. Presidents never enjoy pointed questions from the press, but President Trump should respect their right to ask them and respect Americans enough to answer them.

@AliciaZuckerman: Someone on Facebook I think (apologies for not remembering who), wrote that Florida could be deciding between ice cream and a punch in the head and the results would be split 50.5%-49.5%. Astute commentary, whoever you are.

@shahed: If you feel sad today, just imagine Mike Pence swearing 2 women into Congress with the Qur’an

@MostBoringGirl: I hope they call the movie “Florida Recount 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

@NateSilver: You have 506 races between the House, Senate and governor. Polls have gotten the large majority of those right. Moreover, they’ve gotten the overall direction of the House and Senate almost exactly right. There have been about as many upsets as you’d expect.

@LennyCurry: Those opining on the death of polling. Here’s what I know. My pollster told me where I would be in March 15 election. Told me I won the May election at 6pm the night of. Told me we would exceed 60% on pension reform. I’m watching all he told me would happen actually happen Tonight.

@TracySaur: Greyhound racing was banned in Florida yesterday. Regardless of your views on racing, this means about 8000 hounds will be looking for homes in the coming months. They are wonderful, kind, sweet, and sleepy dogs, and in the wake of this please consider opening your home to one.

—@SteveSchale: Hey @steveschale — your VM box is full. Must be all those calls of congratulations on @FSUHoops win last night.


Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 9; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 12; Thanksgiving — 14; Black Friday — 16; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 19; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 34; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 96; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 117; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 121; Iowa Caucuses — 452; 2020 General Election — 726.


Broward still counting votes, but elections supervisor doesn’t know how many are left” via Stephen Hobbs and Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — With a razor-thin margin separating Senate candidates Scott and Nelson, Broward County — a Democratic bastion — was still counting votes Wednesday, with no idea how many are left. “I can’t give you an exact number. I’m not sure. I’m really not sure,” Broward Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes said. Broward election officials said repeatedly throughout the day that they didn’t know how many mail-in ballots were still being counted. “But we are working on those and whatever they are, we anticipate completing them today,” Snipes said. The elections office plans to review provisional ballots at 5 p.m. Thursday and have first unofficial results by 1 p.m. Friday.

Florida recount redux: facing razor-thin margins, Broward County officials really don’t know how many ballots are left to count.

—”‘Florida’s being Florida’: Senate race may be heading to what else? A recount.” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times

Bill Nelson’s moonshot: Can a recount find 30,000 votes to keep his Senate seat from going to Rick Scott?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott was clinging to a 30,175-vote advantage over Nelson as of Wednesday evening — or just 0.38 percent of the 8.1 million ballots cast by Floridians. State law allows for a machine recount of the results if the two candidates are separated by one-half of a percentage point or less. The race is well within that margin. The earliest a recount could begin is Saturday after all 67 counties have counted any provisional ballots and certified the results of the election. If a machine recount ends with the two candidates separated by one-quarter of a percentage point or less, then a manual recount would take place.

Assignment editors — Marc Elias, lawyer for the Nelson campaign, will hold a conference call with reporters on the recount in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, 10:30 a.m., register at here.

Tweet, tweet:


Could Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum race for Governor face recount?” Via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Additional votes counted had cut Republican DeSantis’ lead over the Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee to 0.62 percent. An automatic recount would be done if the margin of victory falls below 0.5 percent. The notice for a recount would come from Secretary of State Ken Detzner, an appointee of Republican Gov. Scott, who also faces a recount in his campaign against incumbent U.S. Sen. Nelson. DeSantis claimed victory in the hard-fought campaign against Gillum on Tuesday night.

Could Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum be the next recount?

Automatic recount looms in Ag Commissioner race with 0.16 percent vote margin” via Michael Braun of the Tallahassee Democrat — That close margin is likely to trigger an automatic recount with just 12,521 votes between them. An automatic recount happens when the difference is less than half a percentage point, and this race is at 0.16 percent. “This is the closest race we’ve seen here in Florida since Bush v. Gore in 2000 — we’re heading into a recount,” said Fried, a lawyer and lobbyist from Fort Lauderdale. “We are going to ensure that every vote is counted; in a race this close, everyone’s voices must be heard, so the will of the people is upheld.” Brian Swensen, spokesman for the Caldwell campaign, said, “We will be going through the state’s mandated recount and do not expect the results to change.”

Janet Cruz declares victory over Dana Young in Florida Senate race, despite thin margin” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Just 289 of the 207,057 votes cast separate Cruz and Young in their race for the Florida Senate District 18 seat, and the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections will likely declare a recount. But on Wednesday morning, Cruz said she isn’t waiting to declare victory. “Sure, it will go to a recount,” said the Democratic challenger. “I believe in our system and in our system of recounts. I am feeling quite comfortable the number will be the same. It is time to declare victory.” Sarah Bascom, a spokesperson for the Young campaign, said “the Senate District 18 race is still a razor-thin margin with additional provisional ballots to be reviewed and will be headed to a state-mandated recount. We will continue to monitor the process and wait for the official results to be certified.”

—“HD 26, HD 89 recounts to decide final split in Florida House” via Florida Politics

Democrats fear recount is already amiss” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — This is all new territory. And Democrats are worried they’re starting on the wrong foot. “Florida Democrats are reaching out to every Supervisor of Elections office to receive data on provisional ballots to ensure that everyone who voted has the information they need for their vote to be counted,” Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa said. The party had received partial data from just 22 counties by Thursday afternoon, and the others have refused to give the Democrats any information, Peñalosa said. Provisional ballots are due by 5 p.m. on Thursday. Peñalosa’s concern underscores just how unprecedented this will be. Contrary to what many believe, Florida has never been through a statewide recount — not even during the infamous 2000 election.

Tweet, tweet:


Recount possible in Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3 race” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — After appearing to throw in the towel to opponent Jeremy Matlow in the Tallahassee City Commission Seat 3 race, Lisa Brown is breathing new hope among her supporters. According to the summary report posted by the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, Matlow won by 334 votes — well within the half-percent of the 74,616 votes cast in that race needed to trigger a recount under state law. “As a result, there is a recount that will take place, and we estimate that it will take a couple of days,” Brown posted on Facebook. “We will keep you posted on the results. Once again, thank you all for your support.” Brown told the Democrat, “It’s just a matter of making sure we’re doing the right thing.”


Everyone from Team Nelson down to Team Bonfiglio is brushing up on the Sunshine State’s recount rules. Here’s how it works.

All 67 county supervisors of elections offices have to report their final totals to the state. Given all the flavors of nonstandard ballots, such as provisional or overseas ballots, that’s going to take a couple of days. Once all those ballots are in and there’s a tabulation, then comes the decision on a recount.

Oh no, not again. (Image via Getty)

If the gap between the top two candidates in a race within 0.5 percentage points, Secretary of State Detzner is required to order a machine recount. Once the order is handed down, voting machines are tested for errors. If no errors are found, the ballots are fed back into the voting machines.

Counties with electronic voting machines simply compare the number of votes they reported to the state Division of Elections with the number of votes the machines say they received. If they match up, it’s all good.

In either case, the post-recount totals must be turned in to the state by 3 p.m. Nov. 15. If the post-recount margin is greater than 0.25 percentage points, the race can be called. If not, it’s time for a manual recount. That process can take quite a while, and includes examining disputed or unclear (a la the 2000 Bush v. Gore contest) to determine if and how they should be counted.

Hunker down, 2018 ain’t over.


What can we expect from Gov. Ron DeSantis?” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Expect more of the same under DeSantis’ watch. New restrictions on guns likely will face an insurmountable climb. DeSantis has been critical of Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. He’s questioned their leadership because of failures before and after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. With the caveat that he is not a “left-wing tree hugger,” DeSantis touted his support for the environment at campaign events, saying he would work to reduce toxic algae discharges, prevent offshore oil drilling and restore the Everglades. DeSantis says he’ll expand voucher programs that provided publicly funded scholarships for low- and moderate-income students to attend private schools. DeSantis says he’ll fully implement the wishes of voters to allow the use of medical marijuana, but he said he has concerns about legalizing the drug for recreational use.

What can we expect from a Governor Ron DeSantis? (Image via Getty)

Experience counts on DeSantis transition team” via Florida Politics — Governor-elect DeSantis rolled out his transition team chairs Wednesday, and interesting names abounded. Congressman Matt Gaetz, an unstinting DeSantis advocate from the time he launched his campaign, will fill one of the slots. Outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who originally backed Adam Putnam in the primaries before mending fences after August, will fill another spot. Senator George LeMieux, who served as a U.S. Senator from 2009 through 2011, will fill another slot. Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, a former Senate president who served as LG for Jeb Bush, fills yet another spot. All four have extensive Tallahassee experience, helping DeSantis to conquer the learning curve.

Susie Wiles named to lead DeSantis transition” via the News Service of Florida — Wiles, who also managed Gov. Scott’s successful 2010 campaign and played a key role in 2016 for President Donald Trump in Florida, will be the DeSantis transition team’s executive director. “I’m confident these individuals will ensure our administration is ready to lead on day one to make our state cleaner, safer and stronger for all Floridians,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

DeSantis win paves way for conservative court” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — With DeSantis’ election, that conservative Republican influence will extend to the Florida Supreme Court, which has a 4-3 liberal majority that has blocked many initiatives advanced by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Scott. DeSantis said his court appointees “will be very, very smart, very principled people, but they’re going to understand that their role is to apply the law and not rewrite the law.” He said the appointments would bring an end to “judicial activism” on the court.


Donald Trump mocks Miami Republicans who tried to run their own campaigns — and lost” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The president, who spent the final stages of the campaign demonizing immigrants, couldn’t bother to pronounce Carlos Curbelo’s name correctly 14 hours after the Cuban-American lawmaker, who voted to repeal Obamacare and helped draft a tax bill that was Trump’s signature legislative achievement, paid for it at the ballot box. “On the other hand, you had some who decided, ‘Let’s stay away let’s stay away.’ They did very poorly,” Trump said, referring to lawmakers who tried to campaign on their own brand instead of his. “I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.” He then mispronounced the Miami congressman’s name as Cue-bella.

Donald Trump began a contentious post-midterm press conference mocking those candidates who failed to embrace him and lost, including Carlos ‘Cue-bella.’

High voter turnout isn’t helping Democrats. Here’s why.” via Langston Taylor and Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — “This was a base election on both sides, and the president is a very big motivator,” said Susie Wiles, the senior campaign adviser for the DeSantis campaign. “The fact that he was willing to come two times made a big difference.” Republican turnout surged along with the Democrats’. What’s more, the biggest Democratic stronghold counties of Broward and Miami-Dade failed to deliver nearly as many votes as they have. Republican areas, like usual, turned out more. DeSantis won 26 of the top 30 counties by turnout. He kept it close in Pinellas, the most populous of those 30, which former President Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012 and Trump in 2016.

How an FBI investigation and a broken relationship tanked Andrew Gillum’s campaign” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The FBI’s interest in Tallahassee — which seemed to revolve around the activities of a public redevelopment agency — was especially damaging to Gillum because his campaign was based so heavily on his personality, life story and charm. For more than a year, Gillum was his campaign’s greatest asset, using his gift of gab to sell voters on a liberal agenda in a moderate state. “We put him on the road all the time,” said a person familiar with the campaign. “If there were voters to talk to, or if there was money to be raised, he was there.” But Gillum’s campaign appeared to have a blind spot. Gillum was already walking a tightrope — selling the nation’s largest swing state on a liberal agenda he adopted in the primary. Not only were they wrong about his ability to rally Democrats enough to overcome a historical midterm malaise and capitalize on anti-Trump sentiment, but they were also wrong about the liability posed by the FBI investigation.

DeSantis’ victory over Gillum shows Republicans can win without Jacksonville” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — Even though Duval gave a comfortable margin to Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, and it voted for Sen. Nelson and Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Nikki Fried, those margins were wiped out by suburban parts of the state. In no county did Gillum gain a larger share of his vote than in Duval County when compared to Charlie Crist’s share four years ago. Gillum earned 52 percent of the vote compared to Crist’s 41 percent in 2014. But ultimately, that didn’t matter. DeSantis didn’t need to worry about the large urban counties. While Duval’s margin shifted by a whopping 50,855 votes, that wasn’t enough to handle the Republican growth in the state’s suburban and exurban counties. In Pasco County, DeSantis earned about 31,000 more votes over Scott’s 2014 margin. He kept Pinellas County closer by about 27,000 votes. He ran up the scores in Brevard, Volusia and Hernando counties.

Florida A&M alums say Gillum’s loss hits hard” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — LaDray Gilbert, 36, stood among the sea of supporters near the steps of Lee Hall on FAMU’s campus Tuesday night for what was to be an exuberant victory watch party. He was among the hundreds who braved torrential rain, muggy night air and a roller coaster of emotions that ended with seeing Gillum lose. Gilbert was dismayed. “We saw the writing on the wall,” said the Jackson County attorney who graduated from FAMU’s School of Business and Industry and law school. Among the disappointed faces he saw was Gillum’s brother. It was clear he’d been crying and unbothered by who noticed. Gillum’s campaign always starred stories of his family. “That pierced me to the core,” Gilbert said. “Those tears that you saw and the reaction that you saw gave authenticity to the stories that Andrew told. It’s personal to me like it was personal to everybody else.”

—“Four factors that dragged Gillum down” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Here’s why the one Florida amendment that might have saved you money failed” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — When state lawmakers placed an amendment on the 2018 ballot to slash property taxes, local leaders across Florida expected to lose hundreds of millions each year in tax revenues. Voters rejected Amendment 1. Why didn’t it pass? “People heard local officials everyday talk about raising taxes or cutting services,” said Susan MacManus, USF Distinguished University Professor Emerita. “The best advertisement and information came from local officials. They all talked about it. Everybody was told what this would do to them.” The amendment language, she said, was also one “of the most difficult to understand on the ballot.”

Lenny Curry taunts ‘opponents’ after GOP wins” via Florida Politics — When so inclined, Jacksonville Mayor Curry offers some very direct quotes. On Tuesday evening, Curry spiked the ball on local exponents of the “Blue Wave” theory, reminding them of his endorsements of DeSantis and Scott. Money quote? “From my years in Sports, coaching, business, parenting, life & government, I’ve never understood those that lose the battle then find something to celebrate. Odd and a recipe for serial losing. Losing sucks. I’m glad my opponents haven’t figured that out.” Curry faces the voters in March 2019’s Jacksonville city elections.

Lenny Curry finished the 2018 election cycle taunting his political opponents.

—“Straw ballot win sparks move to give voters final say on JEA” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union

Key West elects the first openly lesbian mayor in Florida history” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — Teri Johnston is the new mayor of Key West, the first open lesbian to be elected as a city mayor in Florida history. The former city commissioner defeated Margaret Romero Tuesday by taking 66 percent of the vote. “We said from the very start we were going to run an issue-oriented campaign,” Johnston said Tuesday night, as both candidates complimented each other on campaigns well run. Johnston received 6,635 votes to Romero’s 3,398 votes. “Tonight Teri Johnston made history when voters elected her mayor of Key West,” Stratton Pollitzer, chair of Equality Florida Action PAC, told WLRN.

Milestone: Sarah Fortney elected first openly gay School Board member in Florida” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fortney, an incoming Polk County School Board member, will become Florida’s first openly lesbian member of a Florida school district. Joe Saunders of Equality Florida Action PAC celebrated Fortney’s win in a statement: “Sarah has made history as the first out lesbian elected to a School Board in the State of Florida. Equality Florida Action PAC is committed to electing pro-equality champions like Sarah who will fight for all Polk County students.” Fortney, a 34-year teaching veteran, won her election last night in a landslide, taking almost 61 percent of the vote in Polk County over Scott Jones, a Publix manager.

—“Despite local GOP resistance, Collier County passes first-ever penny tax” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Richard DeNapoli nabs Broward conservation district seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The sole open seat on the Broward Soil & Water Conservation District is changing hands after DeNapoli came out on top in the race for Seat 2 Tuesday night. DeNapoli, the former chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, defeated incumbent Richard Leys in the race. The conservation district works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create “ways to conserve water, prevent soil erosion, convert irrigation systems and inform the public about conservation problems,” according to its website. The Broward district has suffered from money problems recently.


Gulf Power storm repairs could top $350 million” via the News Service of Florida — The largest utility in Northwest Florida expects a final tab of hundreds of millions of dollars from Hurricane Michael. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the utility’s parent company, Gulf estimated that costs of repairing transmission and distribution lines and “uninsured facilities” will total $350 million to $400 million. “The ultimate outcome of this matter cannot be determined at this time,” the filing said.

State continues work to reopen storm-damage parks” via the News Service of Florida — Portions of Falling Waters State Park, which features Florida’s highest waterfall, reopened as work continues to clean and repair damages from last month’s Hurricane Michael. The Washington County park sustained facility, boardwalk, road and trail damages in the Oct. 10 storm. The park remains closed to overnight camping. “Florida State Parks staff continue to work as quickly as possible to finish remaining cleanup and repairs,” the state agency said. “Amenities and access to certain areas of the parks may be limited until the work is completed.” Seven other state parks remain closed due to storm damages.

Parts of Falling Waters State Park are now open again after Hurricane Michael.

Why won’t red tide go away? After Michael, toxic algae has again spread” via Jenny Staletovich of the Miami Herald — In most places, with the wet season winding down and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers easing up on releasing polluted water from Lake Okeechobee, the toxic algae had dropped to relatively low levels. Fish kills were down and so were the coughing fits among beachgoers. But in the weeks following the storm, red tide that is already considered the worst in a decade has roared back. On Monday, state wildlife officials logged high to medium levels along beaches from Clearwater to waters off Everglades City and in the Panhandle. Why that remains is a little bit of mystery. Red tides have many factors at play, and remain tricky to predict. But it’s likely a combination of wind, pollution and the tiny algae that cause the blooms, one of the few with the ability to swim, conspired to revive the tide.


Pam Bondi is being talked about as Trump’s next Attorney General” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Multiple media outlets have named Bondi to Trump’s short list, touting her strong ties to the president and the fact that she’ll be out of a job soon. Does Bondi want the job, though? Has she discussed it with Trump? Her office wouldn’t say.

Some are talking (again) about Pam Bondi is taking a White House job.

State challenged again on marijuana licenses” via the News Service of Florida — A Winter Springs company has filed the latest in a series of legal challenges arguing that the state is violating a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. K N Y Medical Care, LLC, which does business as AKESOE, filed the case in Leon County circuit court after unsuccessfully seeking state approval to enter the medical-marijuana industry. The wide-ranging lawsuit targets actions by the Florida Department of Health, which regulates medical marijuana, and a 2017 law that was designed to carry out the voter-approved constitutional amendment. “The defendants’ (state agencies and officials) failure to comply with their constitutional duties is … severely harming competition in the marketplace by delaying the entrance of new businesses, like AKESOE, into the market and thereby strengthening the improper monopoly hold that the current (licensed operators) has on the market,” the lawsuit said.

Board of Governors to discuss performance funding” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Board of Governors is set to discuss some controversial changes to the state’s higher education during its meeting, including performance funding and mental health care. Performance funding has been a long-disputed issue for the state’s universities. The current system ranks the schools’ performances based on a series of metrics and dishes out bonus funding based on the rank, with the bottom three schools receive no additional money.


Florida Press Club Winners 2018 — The Sarasota Herald-Tribune snagged the Florida Press Club’s top honor, the Frances DeVore Award for Public Service with its exploration of how the war on drugs has meted out unfair sentences for people of color. The Miami Herald, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the Panama City News Herald won in their categories for the club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting. And Tessa Duvall, Nate Monroe, Ben Conrack and Mary Kelli Palka of the Florida Times-Union swept all classes to get the special Freedom of Information Award. The awards were distributed at the 68th annual meeting of the Florida Press Club in Mount Dora on Saturday.



Republicans broke Florida politics. Things won’t be better there next time.” via Adam Weinstein of The Washington Post — As pundits go crazy trying to reconcile the Sunshine State’s turnout with the national results, let me offer my own theory: “Florida” is increasingly a meaningless political entity except in Republican electoral win columns. It is not a purple state, but a dystopian Republican frontier of America’s systematic “Big Sort” — a collection of ultra-blue principalities surrounded by and alienated from an entrenched ultra red state government. Do you seek a bellwether for the United States’ chances of surviving Trumpism? Look to Florida, where the Mar-a-Lago spirit has been a governing ethos for many years already. So you want to know how Florida survives; the answer is it probably won’t, not as a functioning state that tends to the needs of its 21 million people. Florida is going to get more divided, less governable, and probably more susceptible to oligarchs and fiefdoms than it already is.

Florida turns red with Republican wins” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — For Republicans, their control of Florida now is virtually complete. They will hold both U.S. Senate seats for the first time in modern history. They will keep the Governor’s Mansion they have held for 20 years. They will continue to hold the three statewide Cabinet offices. They still firmly control the Legislature, and they still have one more U.S. House member than the Democrats. For Democrats, Tuesday’s election is the final indignity. Except for a few big-city mayors, they have nowhere to turn and nowhere to go but up. Who will emerge as the progressive voice to answer the conservative chorus of DeSantis, Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio? Florida’s government has turned entirely red even as the electorate remains narrowly divided. It’s up to Scott and DeSantis to be consensus-builders rather than partisans and uniters rather than dividers.

Voters clearly stood up to incivility and cynicism. Not in Florida.” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times — Midterms say that Florida is a purple state in theory only. The truth is you live in a Republican stronghold, and it is folly to argue otherwise. That goes for the state Legislature, the congressional delegation and the Governor’s Mansion, too. Florida Democrats have a sizable lead in registered voters, and a fatal deficit in enthusiasm. Or brains. Or money. Or all three. Elsewhere, voters clearly stood up to incivility and cynicism. Not in Florida. DeSantis, your new governor, ran a campaign that was comically bereft of vision or details. And it didn’t matter. He beat a more charismatic candidate. He beat a candidate who had led in most of the polls.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Melanie Bostick, Jennifer Green, Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: Best Buy Purchasing

Evan Hoffman: Organization For International Investment

Francisco Penela: Florida Commission on Human Relations

Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Combined Insurance

Seth McKeel, David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: ST Enterprises

Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: WellFlorida Council

— ALOE —

World’s largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas, to make its U.S. debut at Port Canaveral” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — The ship — Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas — has a capacity of 6,680 passengers and 2,200 cruise members. It cost more than $1 billion to build. It had its maiden voyage in April, and has been sailing short Mediterranean cruises this summer out of Barcelona, Spain. It will now be based at Royal Caribbean’s new cruise terminal at the Port of Miami. While the ship will be based in Miami, Royal Caribbean opted to make its first U.S. stop at Port Canaveral to clear customs and for a required U.S. Coast Guard inspection.

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas — the world’s largest cruise ship — will homeport at Port Canaveral.

Happy birthday to Leah Bickley and Emily Sitzberger.

Last Call for 11.7.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

News of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ departure from the Justice Department was heralded by none other than Florida’s own John Morgan on Wednesday.

Tweeting words no one expected him to string together, Morgan — who nearly single-handedly got a constitutional amendment passed here allowing medical marijuana — said:

“Thank you President Trump for firing this dude Jeff Sessions. Resign means fired!”

Sessions opposed legalizing marijuana and stood his ground that “federal law remains in effect” despite state moves to even allow cannabis as medicine.

That earned him Morgan’s undying enmity. And the trial attorney/entrepreneur/investor never minces words.

“The greatest enemy of #marijuana in this country can go home to Alabama and sit with his wife forever.

“Very bad guy!!” Morgan tweeted. Who knew he would have at least that much in common with Trump?

Evening Reads

‘Please stop saying Red Wave’: Inside Democrats’ takeover of the House” via Tim Alberta and Alayna Schneider of POLITICO Magazine

Trump scorns GOP midterm losers who did not ’embrace’ him” via Kevin Breuninger of CNBC

Some who patterned their campaigns after Trump’s divisive rhetoric saw the ploy pay off” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigns at Trump’s request” via Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post

‘Soul crushing’: Trump wave bewilders Florida Democrats” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Bill Nelson, Rick Scott race headed to recount” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Ron DeSantis win paves way for conservative court” via Llyod Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida

A devastating blow to Florida’s disenfranchised Democrats” via the Sun Sentinel editorial board

How an FBI investigation and a broken relationship tanked Andrew Gillum’s campaign” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Richard Corcoran, Matt Gaetz among DeSantis transition team chairs” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Agriculture Commissioner race: Nikki Fried readies for recount, hopes to catch Matt Caldwell” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Thousands of racing greyhounds in Florida will need new homes by end of 2020” via David K. Li of NBC

Here’s how recount in Janet Cruz, Dana Young race will work” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Los Angeles Mayor hails Hillsborough transit vote on ‘Jimmy Kimmel live!’” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times

In Florida, Dems didn’t show up. But in Central Florida, they’ve taken over” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“Look at what happened in Florida. We did unbelievably well, winning the (U.S.) Senate and the governorship against two talented people.” — President Donald Trump, commenting Wednesday on Florida’s election results.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The state university system’s Board of Governors will meet. The full board is scheduled to convene around 3:30 p.m., Florida Atlantic University, Student Union, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in three cases, including a long-running legal fight about whether the state has properly carried out a 1998 constitutional amendment that requires it to provide a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality” system of public schools. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle will hear arguments on a request by the Florida Senate to shield it from a discrimination case filed by a legislative aide who alleges she was a victim of sexual harassment and retaliation. That’s at 9 a.m., United States Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will continue interviewing candidates for three seats that will open on the Supreme Court in January. That’s at 9 a.m., Airport Executive Center, 2203 North Lois Ave., Tampa.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its regular weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will speak at a Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign kickoff event and at the Florida Life Care Residents Association annual conference. The Salvation Army event is 11 a.m., Balis Park in Historic San Marco, Jacksonville; the Life Care Residents event is at 12:30 p.m., Fleet Landing, One Fleet Landing Blvd., Atlantic Beach.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its monthly forecast for Florida’s 2018-2019 citrus growing season at noon.

Who are the winners and losers after the 2018 midterms? Tell us …

The dust has cleared (well, sort of, recounts aside), which means it’s now time to consider the victors and the vanquished coming out of this year’s midterm election.

Who has emerged as … you knew this was coming … a winner or a loser? We want to know your opinion.

That’s why we’re asking for your ideas, suggestions, nominations — even self-nominations — for the W&L columns for this Nov. 6 balloting.

Which candidate, or what issue, is up or down? This may include candidates, current elected officials, pollsters, consultants, staff members, and so on. We’re looking, obviously, for specific people and issues.

Here’s the deal: Because we want you to be completely candid — nay, brutal even — your answers will remain confidential.

Send those emails to (Feel free to write more than once if you forgot somebody.)

Last Call for 11.6.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Thanks to Tuesday’s NiemanLab email for highlighting The New York Times’ “Calm Place” webpage.

The Times “wants to preface your Election Night panic with some Election Day Zen,” the email says.

“Elections are happening. This is not about them,” the headline reads, followed by a GIF of wind blowing through tall grass.

As you scroll down, you’ll be directed to put on some headphones and listen to over four minutes of nature sounds while you do some breathing exercises.

Lower down on the page, there’s another GIF of oranges falling into water (don’t ask), and a virtual “emotional support dog.” Scratch him!

Still feeling stressed? Here’s its advice: “Close Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.”

But wait: There’s more. Check it out here … while you still have time before 8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central.

Evening Reads

On Election Day, remember three who sacrificed their lives” via Julie Hauserman of The Florida Phoenix

The New York Times election needles is back. With a few new safety features” via Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair

Donald Trump begins midterm Election Day bracing for grim political news, aides say” via Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times

One way or the other, Rick Scott and Bill Nelson will make history Tuesday” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Andrew Gillum: Victory ‘will send a message to Mr. Trump’” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

Red Tide Politics: It’s the environment, stupid.” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

‘Economy’: Why Ron DeSantis used Trump for his closing argument” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Trust those polls? Look at their accuracy in prior Florida elections” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Loaded with data and whiz-bang effects, maps are the real stars of election-night TV” via Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin of The New York Times

Voter turnout reported heavy in Broward and Palm Beach counties, both vital to Democrats’ hopes” David Fleshler and Brittany Wallman of the Sun Sentinel

As counties place polls in gated communities, Florida voters are left out” via Daniel Rivero of WLRN

Whodunit? Election Day numbers a mystery in blue strongholds” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

“‘What’s one less?’ Nonvoters could have the biggest say of all.” via Marc Fisher and Kristine Phillips of The Washington Post

‘Vote shaming’ messages are everywhere, and people are getting annoyed” via Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post

State says Election Day starts smoothly” via News Service of Florida

Jeff Vinik on transportation referendum: ‘We expect to win today’” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal

South St. Pete polling place has Election Day glitch” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Voter intimidation at this Pasco County precinct” via Zach Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times

Teachers can’t politic, so why do Miami school marquees say ‘#362 for Teachers’?” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times

Pastor’s sign outside Florida polling place warns not to vote for Democrats and then praise Jesus” via Zachary Sampson and Justin Trombly of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“Your vote could very well save the majority. I know we are all counting on you to go out and vote today.” — Don Gaetz, former Florida Senate President, in a GOTV email for his son, GOP Panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Assuming the night goes late, everyone has Last Call’s permission to sleep in tomorrow morning.

Sunburn for 11.6.18 — Happy Election Day!

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

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

So this is Election Day

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

(with apologies to John Lennon)

Happy Election Day to all.

Some of you will be pleased this cycle is over; others will be wondering where your next paycheck is coming from.

No matter how good or bad you have it by the end of the night, just remember poor Josh Lyman from “The West Wing,” trolled by his own pal Toby Ziegler in an excruciating Election Day practical joke.

In sum, Lyman is forced to think that confused voters are invalidating their ballots by ‘overvoting.’

Here’s the clip from YouTube, then vote (if you haven’t already):

It’s voting time, which means it’s also crunch time to think about who is emerging from the 2018 midterm election as a winner or a loser. Right now (no seriously, like RIGHT NOW), we are asking for your nominations for the W&L columns. Who, or what issue, is up or down? This includes pollsters, consultants, staff members, and so on. We’re looking, obviously, for specific people and issues. Your answers will remain confidential. Send to

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Florida candidates will be on election night” via Florida Politics

It’s not the party … It’s the after party! A rundown of where South Florida candidates will be on election night” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Tampa Bay-area candidates will be on election night” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics


@Journo_Christal: Statement from intelligence community before Election Day says “no indication“ of any compromise to election infrastructure but adds: “Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions..”

@RealDonaldTrump: Republicans have created the best economy in the HISTORY of our Country — and the hottest jobs market on planet earth. The Democrat Agenda is a Socialist Nightmare. The Republican Agenda is the AMERICAN DREAM! Vote.GOP

@BarackObama: If you take that power and vote, something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. And with each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads. Go vote!

@GennX: On the eve, my last piece of advice. Go vote. But if at this point, if you are still undecided or uneducated on a race or issue, skip it and move on, democracy isn’t a guess.

@ExJon: I’ve crunched the numbers. This is only the 11th Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes.

@KimGuilfoyle: I have been across the country and spoke at over 100+ events with @DonaldJTrumpJr the last few months I can tell you firsthand there is something big happening We will prove the “experts” wrong tomorrow when our base turns out and votes! Let’s keep the movement going, VOTE!

@GusCorbella: I miss the days of a good ole fashioned 10-15 point election night stomping. Whatever happened to those?

@AmandiOnAir: Yesterday on @MSNBC’s @amjoyshow I termed this potentially decisive electoral phenomenon “The Jolly Effect” after ex @GOP Congressman, @DavidJollyFL who’s famously voting for @TheDemocrats in the #Midterms2018 despite being lifelong GOP.

@FredPiccoloJr: The Jolly Effect — the act of morphing oneself from arch-conservative to triggered liberal to obtain media praise and Twitter minions. This affliction is rare, mainly impacting candidates who lost elections. Treatment options include spinal transplant & sarcastic tweets.

@EvanAxelbank: A former Democratic elected official just said to me of the Gillum campaign: you know it was a good campaign because their message at the end is the same as it was at the beginning

@MDixon55: What im going to miss most is campaign staffers mocking the crowd size of their opponent’s rallies on Twitter


Democrats took the lead in pre-Election Day voting by nearly a half-point Monday, flipping the script on the numbers ahead of Election Day 2014, when Republicans headed into the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November with a 3-point lead.

As it stands, Democrats crossed the 2-million-vote mark with 75,000 ballots to spare while Republicans were 24,523. Dems made up most of that ground through early voting: The current tally shows them up by 85,570 ballots in that metric while Republican’s once ironclad lead in VBM has been whittled down to 63,047 ballots.

In all, 5.22 million votes have been cast and 39.7 percent of them have come from Democrats, 39.3 percent have come from Republicans and 21 percent have come from the “others” — not the perennial Game of Thrones mob, but the amalgamation no- and third-party voters who likely hold the keys to the kingdom for statewide candidates.

Early votes were cast today as well, but only in the half-dozen predominantly Republican counties leveled by Hurricane Michael last month. Mail ballots reaching county supervisors of election today and tomorrow will also be tabulated in the final pre-Election Day vote numbers.


Why do midterm elections even exist? Here’s why the framers schedule things this way” via Olivia Waxman of Time magazine — The simplest explanation for how the Constitutional Convention decided that was an appropriate time limit is that they viewed it as a compromise between the annual elections used by early state legislatures and the roughly three-year terms that had existed in Britain. Plus, setting pre-established times for elections made sure that: “Unlike in parliamentary systems, American political parties could not call advantageous elections,” according to the Office of the Historian at the House of Representatives. “Elections would be held according to a given length of time rather than when political leaders thought they would be most likely to win.” In addition, some argued that the complexities of running a national government meant that members would need more than a year to get used to the rules and procedures, not to mention that in those days, it also just took longer to physically travel to the national seat of power than the local seat of power.

Midterms have a purpose, so say the framers of the Constitution.

Jittery investors await outcome of midterm elections” via Alex Veiga of The Associated Press — The midterm elections are certain to have implications for Wall Street, regardless of how they shape the balance of power in Congress. That’s because in every scenario there could be winners and losers in key sectors of the market, including banking, pharmaceuticals, companies that would benefit from government infrastructure projects and those that rely on healthy consumer spending, analysts say. The scenario deemed most likely by recent polls and analyst projections have Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives and Republicans keeping control of the Senate. The odds are longer for Republicans or Democrats emerging with majorities in both chambers.

—“Gauging the wave: Look to Virginia for early signs of ‘suburban revolt’” via Heidi Przybyla of NBC News

Marco Rubio: There will be a red wave (today)” via Emily Birnbaum of The Hill — “In 2016, when we went in that final day, everybody was predicting gloom and doom,” Rubio recalled during a campaign event for Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. “They didn’t realize how many people out there were waiting for Election Day.” He said people went to the polls in person because they were so excited to vote that year. “Forget about a blue wave,” Rubio added. “A red wave of votes started coming in. That’s what’s gonna happen again now.” “But we have to make sure it happens,” he said. “That’s what we have to do now. Today is about making sure that everyone turns out and votes.”

Win Justice talks to 4M voters ahead of Election Day — The Win Justice coalition — a combo of Florida Planned Parenthood PAC, the SEIU Florida, Center for Community Change Action, Color of Change PAC, New Florida Majority and Organize Florida and Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes— has talked to 4 million Florida voters, including 1.5 million door knocks of infrequent voters in black and LatinX communities and a texting program that hit up 1.2 million cell phones. One measurable the group is touting: Nearly 330,000 people out of 1.2 million low propensity voters casting a ballot through early voting and vote by mail. Also, on the scoreboard: Signing up over 17,000 Floridians for vote-by-mail ballots.

Dems whiffed in 2016, so what if they fail again?” via Julie Pace of The Associated Press — This year, history is on Democrats’ side. The sitting president’s party often losing ground in the first midterm after winning office, and for much of 2018, voter enthusiasm and polling has favored Democrats as well. But the president has proved once again to be a powerful political force late in a campaign. Even with his daily airing of grievances on Twitter and an approval rate below the average for his recent predecessors at this point, he has almost single-handedly put Republicans in a stronger position this fall. He’s aggressively appealed to his loyal, core supporters with a sharply anti-immigrant, nationalist message and by casting Democrats as outside the mainstream. If Republicans hang on to control of Congress, Trump will almost certainly be emboldened. Democrats would be left with difficult questions about a path forward. For example, how can Democrats assemble a winning coalition in 2020 if they fail to appeal to the moderate suburban voters who hold sway in the congressional districts that decide which party holds a House majority? And how will Democrats, if they fall short, sustain the energy from young people and women who have marched in protest of Trump, registered to vote and volunteered for the first time this election season.

Exit pollsters make changes after 2016 breakdown” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — In a joint statement, a consortium of four news networks at the company that conducts the exit polls, Edison Research, announced changes meant to make this year’s surveys more accurate after 2016, when early results suggested Hillary Clinton was more likely to win the presidential election than Trump — yet another example of the exit poll’s overestimating Democrats’ performance in the vote count. The changes are designed to better account for the sharp cleavages in the electorate along educational lines, especially among white voters, and the continually increasing share of the vote that is cast before Election Day in states that allow early or no-excuse absentee voting.

A centrist in a liberal test Florida, and Democrats everywhere watch closely” via Matt Flegenheimer and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — For two years, national Democrats have been puzzling over how best to counter Donald Trump, plotting their comeback in areas red, blue and in between. And in the country’s largest swing state, they have constructed perhaps their purest possible test case. There is Andrew Gillum, the young, black, uncompromising progressive, who wants to impeach the president and takes the stage to “Walk It Talk It” by Migos. And there is Bill Nelson, the septuagenarian, white, unapologetic centrist who revels in incrementalism and joined Congress the year Gillum was born. Even now, amid wide-scale upheaval in the party, some Democrats believe that this approach remains the surest way to win here, fearing that Gillum’s left-wing platform risks alienating the kinds of moderates and soft Republicans that Nelson has made a career out of drawing in. But as Nelson reaches Election Day, many in the party have been quietly hoping that Gillum would lift his fellow Democrat through sheer force of personality.

— “A guide to the 2018 midterm elections in Florida” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press


Nate Silver pegs Gov. race at 3 in 4 chance of Andrew Gillum victory” via Florida Politics — According to national elections forecaster Silver and other folks at, Gillum has a 3-4 chance of prevailing against DeSantis in Florida’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday. That estimation, however, doesn’t mean Gillum is polling at 75 percent. In fact, Silver figures Gillum will walk away with about 51 percent of the vote share, while DeSantis will finish at around the 47 percent mark. FiveThirtyEight put Gillum’s race in the context of other states the went for Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012. In that category, Democrats in the Sunshine State hold a “more modest lead” than those in others, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the candidates for Governor are “clear favorites.”

Marco Rubio works the crowd at an Orlando GOTV rally for Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis has record haul of matching funds” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis received a check for $363,575 on Friday, bringing to $2.67 million his total from the program, which provides matches for individual contributions of $250 or less to statewide candidates’ campaigns. DeSantis edged past the haul of 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, as the final checks for this year’s elections were doled out to five candidates, according to the state Division of Elections website. Crist, who is now a congressman from St. Petersburg, tapped the taxpayer-subsidized program for $2.58 million in his unsuccessful bid in the 2014 midterm election to unseat Gov. Rick Scott. Gillumdrew just under $2.37 million from the program. Gillum received a check for $138,632 on Friday.

Don Cheadle ads call out DeSantis’ racism, tell voters to elect Gillum” via Jenna Amatulli of HuffPost — Radio and digital advertisements calling out Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis’ racist behavior, featuring actor Cheadle’s voice, have been launched in Jacksonville. First, Cheadle points out DeSantis’ refusal to return campaign contributions from a donor who referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Muslim n****r” in a tweet. Then Cheadle addresses DeSantis’ role as the reported moderator of a racist Facebook group that targeted African-Americans, Muslims and survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

‘I don’t want to be judged by my worst day’, Gillum says” via Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum bussed around North Florida Monday, making closing arguments. Speaking in Madison of Amendment 4, which would restore the rights of reformed felons (except rapists and murderers), Gillum was passionate advocating for “second chance.” … “You can’t tell people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, then erect every barrier,” Gillum said, before pivoting to a somewhat more cryptic territory. “I don’t want to be judged by my worst day,” Gillum said, without adding detail as to what that worst day would be. His opponent might have some ideas. Since getting the nomination, Republican Ron DeSantis has slammed Gillum for perceived ethical lapses regarding taking perks from lobbyists and undercover FBI agents investigating corruption in Tallahassee.

Gillum vows areas won’t be ‘forgotten’ if he wins” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — For many members of the almost-all black audience who came to hear Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum speak, Gillum represents more than the opportunity to make history by putting an African-American in the Florida governor’s mansion. The Tallahassee Mayor also carries the promise of delivering what some of the region’s black residents feel has been lacking in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael. “We need more support in the black areas,” Lori Hall, 42, said. “It’s like we’re forgotten about.” Gillum veered from his typical stump speech to target the folks in the audience, some of whose homes still lack power. “Marianna, I want you to know that, even though this area is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Coast,’ you’re not going to be forgotten with the Gillum-King administration.”

Assignment editors — DeSantis will join his family and supporters for on Election Day sign waving event, 7:15 a.m. Eastern time, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 545 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Beach.


Tweet, tweet:


Two down-ballot races that could offer a sense of how the election results are shaping up for the Democrats and Republicans are the tight contests in CD 15 and SD 8. So we polled these races one more time Monday to see where they were at.

CD 15 is traditionally a likely Republican district and should not be in play for the Democrats, however Republican Ross Spano has run a bumbling, lackluster campaign and given Democrat Kristen Carlson an opening. Spano is still holding a two point lead over Carlson, but nine percent of the electorate remainsl undecided, so this is definitely a race to watch Tuesday night.

The race in SD 8 has become more competitive in recent weeks with incumbent Republican Keith Perry still leading Democrat Kayser Enneking, 48 to 43 percent, but not at the double-digit margin he was last month. Enneking is actually leading him among those who say they have already voted, but Perry, like most Republicans, is expecting to overtake his Democrat opponent on Election Day.

Florida Politics will have more on both of these races later in the day Tuesday.


Matt Caldwell enters Election Day playing defense — Republican Ag. Commissioner nominee Caldwell entered the final stretch of his statewide campaign playing defense over attacks lobbed by Democratic challenger Nikki Fried that Caldwell had heavy support from the sugar industry. His campaign put out a new ad highlighting his efforts to “make conservation a real priority” as a state legislator and saying he has “always fought the special interests on both sides who didn’t want to see the problem solved” … Going into a prevent formation is nothing new for a winning team, but Caldwell is — at best — tied with Fried. A recent St. Pete Polls survey commissioned by Florida Politics found the Lehigh Acres Republican down one with 6 percent undecided. That poll showed Fried and other statewide Democrats up big among early voters, while showing the inverse for those yet to vote.

Matt Caldwell enters Election Day on the defense.

Disney, Seminole Tribe and Casinos continued to ante up in Amendment 3 fight — The principal committee backing the anti-gambling expansion amendment, Voters in Charge, has kept cashing checks from Disney and The Seminole Tribe of Florida, while the main committee working against the measure, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, has received some last-minute help from big casino interests. The pro-Amendment 3 effort has raked in more than $45 million, almost exclusively from its two major benefactors. Citizens for the Truth, meanwhile, has tallied $16 million in receipts, including $10 million in October. MGM Resorts International, Xpressbet, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing and 831 Federal Highway Acquisitions each sent more than $1 million apiece to fight the change, which would strip the Legislature of its authority to expand gambling in the state. Most polling shows Amendment 3 in good position to pass on Tuesday. It is one of a dozen measures in front of voters in this cycle, including seven amendments placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and three by the state Legislature.

Amendment 4 a personal fight for once imprisoned Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernández” via George Diaz for the Orlando Sentinel — Fernández stands with 1.2 million convicted felons who hope Amendment 4 passes on Election Day. She knows their story well because she is one of them. The amendment will restore voting rights to felons convicted of nonviolent crimes if it passes by the 60 percent threshold. Fernandez is a card-carrying Republican, which puts her in a direct line of fire with the GOP conservative base. Fernández tiptoes across party lines, hoping her story resonates. She bears the scars of a precipitous fall from grace after accepting a bribe from an agent posing as a developer during the 2010 Orange County mayoral race.


GOTV group knocked on 1 million doors during early voting” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL), a progressive group helping to elect Democrats this election cycle, says it knocked on more than 1 million doors during this year’s early voting period. The organization says those efforts resulted in more than 200,000 conversations. FOF-FL says its 1,600 staff members and volunteers will continue its turnout operation — get out the vote, or GOTV — ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day. “Everything we are doing in these final hours is to channel the energy we’ve witnessed over the past two years into getting folks out to vote for Mayor Gillum and Sen. Nelson,” said Ashley Walker, the group’s state director. “We’ve seen a huge jump in both volunteers and enthusiasm the closer we get to Election Day. But we know enthusiasm isn’t enough, folks have to cast their ballots.”

SEIU Florida makes final GOTV push — Service employee union SEIU is taking a page from Marshall Zhukov and mobilizing a portion of the union’s 55,000 Sunshine State members to make one final GOTV push to ahead of the 2018 election. Among those participating in the last run are Marilyn Ralat Albernas, a 63-year-old nurse and cancer survivor … “As a cancer survivor, every day of this election I’ve been asking myself what I would do if I lost my health insurance because of what DeSantis said about cancer patients and his repeated votes to take away coverage for pre-existing conditions. Gillum has provided unwavering support for people like me, and we need to vote like our life depends on it.” … SEIU said it has worked “particularly hard” to get Gillum into the Governor’s mansion. “Incredibly important to SEIU members is Gillum’s belief that health care is a fundamental right, and that coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions should be protected. Members also say his support of a $15 minimum wage and a starting teacher salary of $50,000 shows how he will put everyday Floridians first.”

No Spanish-language sample ballots in Duval during early voting” via Florida Politics — On Monday, plaintiff Marta Madera (on behalf of a variety of activist groups) sought an emergency ruling on Duval County’s failure to provide sample Spanish-language ballots at Early Voting sites. The filing was in the Northern District of Florida, as the failure of Duval to provide such ballots contravened a September preliminary injunction requiring such. The order would require Spanish-language sample ballots to be made available on Election Day. The Supervisor of Elections thought he was exempt from the original ruling because he doesn’t provide English-language ballots at early voting sites.

So where exactly did Ross Spano get more than $100,000 in his bid for Congress?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Spano’s newly released financial disclosure reveals loans from friends that appear to be the source of more than $100,000 that the Republican later loaned to his campaign for the U.S. Congress. The details emerged Monday after Spano finally filed a personal financial disclosure form that’s required of all congressional candidates. It was due three-and-a-half months ago. Under federal law, a personal loan to a candidate is considered a contribution to the candidate’s campaign, if the loan is intended to provide money for the campaign. The loans Spano received from his friends, and his subsequent loans to his campaign, far exceed the legal limits on campaign contributions.

Cook Political Report shifts CD 25 toward Dems — With hours left until the 2018 election comes to a close, handicappers at the Cook Political Report shifted Florida’s 25th Congressional District from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” Unlike neighboring districts 26 and 27, South Florida’s CD 25 produced a win for Trump two years ago as it re-elected U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to another term by 25 points. This year, former circuit judge Mary Barzee Flores has put up quite a fight — she’s raised about $2 million to Balart’s $2.2 million. She’s also kept her nose clean during a final sprint that has seen the incumbent dogged with stories of faked mortgage applications, pay-to-play, and his wife’s involvement with a travel agency that booked 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. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight also puts CD 25 down as a “Lean R,” giving Barzee Flores 2-in-7 odds to complete the flip Tuesday.

CD 26 draws $18 million in outside money; Florida, $37 million” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Outside groups have spent more than $37 million in Florida’s 27 congressional races with almost half of that going into a single contest: the battle for Florida’s 26th Congressional District in South Florida. Democratic groups led by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC have poured $11.3 million into trying to support Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and to oppose the re-election of Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Republican groups and others, including a couple of nonpartisan groups such as the No Labels PAC, have countered with about $7.1 million to support Curbelo or attack Mucarsel-Powell. That makes the CD 26 race far and away the most expensive in Florida, at least from the standpoint of outside groups’ spending. In four other Florida congressional districts outside groups have spent millions of dollars. But combined, the outside money pouring into those four does not add up to the $18 million spent so far in CD 26.


—“Big legislative races scattered throughout the state” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Senate GOP committee raises more than $19 million” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, raised about $19.14 million during the period, according to a newly filed finance report. It spent $20.31 million and had less than $1 million in cash on hand as of Thursday. The committee, which plays a key role in trying to elect Senate Republicans, received large chunks of money from other political committees. For example, the committee Friends of Dana Young, which is led by Sen. Dana Young, funneled $1.5 million to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in September and October.

Direct mail round up: Republicans attack Rob Levy for supporting popular Amendment 4” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — New attack ads criticize state Senate candidate Levy for supporting Amendment 4. The problem? Most polling shows that referendum cruising to passage. “Senate candidate Ron Levy wants convicted felons to vote,” blares a headline on a mailer from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. The splash page for the mailer in bold type lists groups who could soon return to voter rolls: “Drug Dealers,” “Human Traffickers,” “Child Abusers,” “Kidnappers.” “Levy believes convicted criminals deserve a voice just the same as those victimized by their crimes,” text on the flip side reads. “Putting felons at parity with victims and tipping the scales against honest, law-abiding citizens.”

Bob Levy is on the wrong end of attack mailers for his support of Amendment 4.

’No Mo’ Play In FL’: Rapper Pastor Troy endorses Joe Wicker” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Georgia rapper Troy recorded a 30-second message supporting Wicker for the seat to replace incumbent Ross Spano. Wicker grew up with the 40-year-old Troy in Atlanta and the two are friends. Troy, whose real name is Micah LeVar Troy, is the frontman for the rap group D.S.G.B., which stands for Down South Georgia Boys. “Hey yo, yo, this is your boy Pastor Troy. On Tuesday, November 6 it’s Election Day and we ready,” Troy says in the call. “I’m asking you to go vote for my boy, Joe Wicker. He ready and we ready.” Asked whether the nod from a popular rapper could help the conservative candidate tap into some of the minority vote, Wicker campaign manager Mike Norris said: “that’s the goal.”

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

Jennifer Webb a ‘sell out,’ attack mailer charges” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Two more attack pieces landed in voters’ mailboxes this weekend rallying opposition for Webb. Webb is running against Republican Ray Blacklidge for the House District 69 seat currently occupied by Kathleen Peters. One of the ads shows a giant spider web with the words “sell out” woven into it. The header reads “Wilbur is disappointed by this message in Jennifer’s Webb,” in a nod to the childhood classic “Charlotte’s Webb.” The other side of the mail piece, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, shows a cartoon pig with the caption, “looks like more politics as usual, Charlotte” and cautions voters not to “get caught in Jennifer’s Webb.” Another mail piece shows an image of two preteen boys gazing longingly at a giant piece of cake. “The radical, job-killing agenda of a key ally of Jennifer Webb really takes the cake,” it reads.

Boosted by more donations from Jeff Vinik, transportation group raises almost $4 million” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Vinik and philanthropist Frank Morsani have given yet more money to All for Transportation, nudging the group’s total campaign contributions to almost $4 million. The citizens’ group, which is campaigning for the penny on the dollar sales tax for road, bus and transit improvements, reported raising another $850,000 in a two-week period ending Nov. 1. That included a $100,000 donation from Vinik, who between personal donations and contributions from companies he is associated with, has given $700,000 to All for Transportation. Morsani, a former car dealership owner, gave $100,000, raising his overall contribution to $250,000.

Student’s version of porn film incident at school different from judge candidate’s” via Steve Andrews of News Channel 8/WFLA — Eric Johnson, who now lives in Citrus County, got a call from his dad in Tampa a week ago about “the incident.” It seems 38 years after it happened, “the incident” managed to find its way into a Hillsborough County election. Eric’s sister spotted WFLA’s report about a political ad stating that judicial candidate Robin Fuson was fired from the school district in 1980 because the district claims he did not stop students from watching a pornographic film in his classroom. He states emphatically that he stopped the students who were trying to put the film into a projector. According to Eric and his father, Eric is the student who was behind “the incident.” He brought the film to Chamberlain High School to hand off to a friend.


90 percent of teachers return to county hardest hit by storm” via The Associated Press — School officials in the Florida county hardest hit by Hurricane Michael say 90 percent of teachers and staff reported for work, but they won’t know how many students returned until the end of the week. Bay District Schools spokeswoman Sharon Michalik said Monday that many schools are still without internet on the first day of classes since the Category 4 hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle more than three weeks ago. The storm destroyed several schools. Michalik says school officials won’t know how many of Bay County’s 28,000 public school students returned to classes because school officials have to do a paper-based attendance count.

Nearly 90 percent of teachers are returning to work in Bay County, the worst hit in Hurricane Michael.

PSC backs utility plan to help with storm repairs” via the News Service of Florida — State regulators approved a proposal by Florida Public Utilities Co. to help customers in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty counties finance repairs to electrical equipment damaged in Hurricane Michael. Under the plan, the utility will pay upfront costs for electricians to fix certain equipment that is the responsibility of homeowners. The program will be optional for customers and will pay for repairs up to $1,500. Customers who participate will repay the money over the following year. The equipment that would be covered is on the outside of homes and does not include inside wiring.

Man who killed 2 at yoga studio was fired for touching girl” via Gary Fineout and Tamara Lush of The Associated Press — The man who shot and killed two women at a yoga studio was fired from his job as a substitute teacher for inappropriately touching a middle schoolgirl, a Florida school district said. Paul Scott Beierle, 40, posed as a customer during a yoga class Friday, then began shooting, authorities said. A 61-year-old faculty member at Florida State University and a 21-year-old FSU student from Georgia were killed. Five others were injured. Beierle then killed himself. … Kelly Schulz, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District, said Monday that Beierle was fired in May after he asked a female student if she was ticklish and then touched her at the top of the stomach “below the bra line,” a district report says.

— “Tallahassee Yoga studio shooter, Stormier gunman had parallel path” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat

My daughter’s roommate was one of the yoga shooting victims” via John Thomas for the Tallahassee Democrat — Maura BinkleyAnna’s roommate, wanted to go on a run, but the weather was bad so she decided to attend a yoga class instead. Around 6 p.m. I got a frantic call from my daughter. There had been a shooting at a yoga studio and that Maura was not answering her phone. I told her there was probably a logical explanation as to why she might not be answering her phone, but as a father, I could sense in her voice that I needed to come to town to reassure her that everything was OK. In the ensuing hours, the world as we knew it was turned upside down. In a stark hospital auditorium, frantically awaiting any information, we were told the devastating news that Maura was dead. Gunned down in a yoga class. Now we can be added to the long list of communities nationwide that have experienced the devastation of gun violence and what it does to our children. The future is filled with the scars of way too many shootings, and forever altered by our inability as a society to address handgun violence and mental illness.

Maura Binkley was killed in a shooting Friday in Tallahassee.

Businesses to see drop in workers’ comp rates” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The state Office of Insurance Regulation announced late Friday that it has decided to approve an overall 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates for 2019. That is a slightly larger cut than a 13.4 percent decrease proposed in August by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, an organization that makes rate proposals for the insurance industry. Regulators gave the organization, commonly known as NCCI, until Wednesday to take a formal step of amending its filing. But when the 13.8 decrease is finalized, it will follow a 9.5 percent rate decrease that took effect this year.

Board puts off vote on health proposals” via the News Service of Florida — A board led by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier sidestepped voting on a number of consumer-protection issues. Altmaier told members of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board that they would discuss proposals but would vote at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 13. “That should give everybody a sufficient amount of time to review the recommendations,” Altmaier said. The commissioner then twice moved to limit talks, saying he was concerned about time constraints. After discussion on a recommendation that patients be provided one free copy of their medical records, Altmaier suggested that they “pause discussions.” He said he wanted to reserve time for any public remarks, but there were no public remarks and the meeting lasted less than an hour.


Joe Henderson: GOP’s midterm election negativity was nonstop” via Florida Politics — If you’ve been exposed to campaign pitches from both sides, I don’t have to explain which one has been peddling fear and which one is offering positive change. Gillum has promised to take on the NRA, push for health care expansion, more money for teachers and schools, and higher corporate taxes to pay for it. DeSantis warned that Gillum would “monkey up” the state’s economy and immediately was widely criticized for using a racist term. Scott has relentlessly pounded Nelson as a career, do-nothing politician who votes the Democratic Party line with regularity and rarely shows up to work. And a PAC that supports Scott even managed to sneak in a dog whistle about Nelson’s age, which is 76, with this line in a commercial that is getting a lot of airtime: “The poor man seems more and more confused.” Really? Did they go there? Yes, they did. Here’s what we do know now: While negative ads have been a standard part of political campaigns for decades and will continue to be, I think DeSantis and Scott took it to the next level this year. If both men lose, it may be the voters’ way of saying: We’ve had enough of that.

Don’t be scared by untruths about Amendment 4” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Amendment 4 is about fairness, not politics. Passing it would be a rightful rebuke of the current clemency process, which is fickle, random and can be subject to racial bias. In 2011, Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet imposed a minimum five-year wait for anyone to be considered for clemency and consider each application individually based on no uniform standards. Scott and three Cabinet members, who sit as the Clemency Board four times a year in Tallahassee, often ask irrelevant, intrusive questions about an applicant’s marriage or driving habits. Most people are denied. Passing Amendment 4 would erase from the state Constitution a Jim Crow-era relic that excludes more than 1 million citizens from a basic and sacred right, which should not be deprived of anyone who has completed their sentence.

Predictions for Tuesday’s elections, and some Florida races to watch” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Senate — Rick Scott. Quite simply, I’ve learned not to bet against the man. He has repeatedly defied expectations, winning, even when he had cruddy poll numbers. Governor — Andrew Gillum. Even if I get this one right, I’ll be wrong. Cabinet races (Attorney General, CFO, Agriculture Commissioner) — All Republican, continuing a trend. Interestingly, this may be the weakest crop of cabinet candidates the GOP has fielded in years. Amendments: I think most will pass. I recommended no votes on most — and yes votes on 4, 12 and 13. I think Nos. 10 and 11 will go down. (Too much junk crammed into each.) Eskamani vs. Reeves. This race is interesting. Democrat Anna Eskamani is generally viewed as one of her party’s rising stars — young, outspoken and unapologetically liberal. She has had a grassroots campaign rarely seen before in legislative races. The results here may be a referendum on the effectiveness of character attacks.

’Blowing smoke’: Sorry, pundits, but you have no clue what will happen on Tuesday” via Peter Hamby of Vanity Fair — Polls remain our best tool for reading the electorate and discerning important trends, which is why journalists, handicappers, and campaign managers depend on them so much. But polls are not predictive. They are wobbly around the margins. Pollsters, the honest ones at least, know this and repeat the warning over and over again. Yet even the shock of 2016 hasn’t stopped people in the media from making predictions about. “Consistently, the public polling here is garbage,” Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston told me. You know who knows the precise composition of this year’s electorate? No one. Electorates mutate every two years. They get older, they get younger, they get browner, they get whiter, they get smaller, they get bigger. They respond to new candidates and shifting issue sets. The only currency to cling to in the post-Trump era is that all bets are off.


Trump nominates Former Rick Scott staffer to run NEA” via Sopan Deb of The New York Times — Mary Anne Carter, a former staffer for Gov. Scott, was officially nominated to a four-year term as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Trump has proposed eliminating the agency multiple times throughout his time in office, but his calls have been ignored by Congress, which slightly increased its funding level in the spring. In a statement, Carter said, “I am honored and humbled to be nominated for this position.” The appointment was mostly a formality: Carter has been unofficially in charge of the N.E.A. as the senior deputy chairman since Trump’s transition. This was especially the case once Carter’s successor, Jane Chu, stepped down in June.

Congratulations: Former Rick Scott staffer Mary Anne Carter is the permanent head of the NEA.

Tampa Bay Times cuts more jobs” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The newspaper confirmed to The Poynter Institute that it would reduce the newsroom headcount by 16. The eliminated positions include nine full-time jobs and seven part-timers. The layoffs come just six months after another a previous round of layoffs in April, when the Times cut around 50 jobs. Those cuts were made after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint. “Although saying goodbye to talented journalists is never easy, we’re also actively hiring for mission-critical jobs that will keep us moving forward,” Times Executive Editor Mark Katches told Poynter in a statement. “We’ve been adding to our investigative reporting team and are planning to hire digital producers and a deputy editor overseeing digital strategy and audience engagement.”

— ALOE —

Election Day deals: Uber, Lyft and others offer free or discounted rides to polls” via Kelly Tyko of USA Today — Ride-sharing apps are making it more affordable to get out and vote. Uber and Lyft both say they will offer free or discounted rides to polling places Tuesday. According to a Lyft blog post, it was estimated that over 15 million people were registered but didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. Uber is partnering with #VoteTogether and Democracy Works to make sure that transportation isn’t a barrier to getting to the polls, the company said.

You can use a cellphone to help you vote. Just don’t take a picture” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — You cannot take a selfie with your ballot on Election Day. Why? It’s against the law. Read Florida Statute 104.20: “Any elector who, except as provided by law, allows his or her ballot to be seen by any person … is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” A first-degree misdemeanor is (again, according to statute) punishable by imprisonment of no more than a year. That also doesn’t mean you have to leave your cellphone at home. Sample ballots, voter guides, newspaper recommendations — many of them are at hand on your trusty cellphone. Local supervisors of elections have the right “to implement policies and procedures to maintain order at the polls,” according to Sarah Revell, director of communications at the Florida Department of State.

Even if you are Justin Timberlake, a selfie with your ballot is illegal in Florida.

Josh Cooper going from Election Day to mahi-mahi” via Roxanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — Tallahassee-based opposition researcher Cooper has had plenty on his “plate” the past few months. But after the winners are called Tuesday night, he will head to Orange Beach, Alabama to dish up something much tastier than political dirt at the 7th Annual World Food Championships (WFC). There are 10 food categories in the competition and Cooper and his teammates are hoping to earn a spot in the finals in the Seafood category when they cook up Coconut and Mango Glazed Mahi Mahi with Avocado and Mango Salsa on Thursday. If they win the preliminary round, Cooper and sous chefs Gannon Hunt and David Lee will prepare their chef’s choice on Saturday — Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, the recipe that earned them a spot in the championship. Hunt, a designer by trade, is responsible for creating beautiful plating, an important job, since presentation is a large part of the scoring.

Josh Cooper’s plate is full, both figuratively and literally.

Free beer will be back at SeaWorld Orlando in 2019 as revenues, earnings pop” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Sesame Street land should open on time, and the free beer will flow again in 2019 at the Orlando theme park, SeaWorld’s interim CEO said. John Reilly gave updates on what’s happening at the parks as the company posted strong financials for the third quarter in a row. SeaWorld Entertainment’s revenue rose 10 percent to $483 million, and attendance is up 10 percent to 8.3 million visitors. Earnings reached $212 million, up 22 percent from the third quarter in 2017. During an earnings call, an analyst asked Reilly how confident he was that Sesame Street land would open on time in the spring after the park’s new raft ride, Infinity Falls, didn’t hold its grand opening until October — a source of disappointment for executives. “I feel good about our ability to open Sesame Street as planned,” Reilly responded.

Happy birthday belatedly to Angela Dempsey (how could we have missed this? We’ll blame Hayden for not reminding us). Celebrating today is our Dan McAuliffe, the great Eric Deggans, Seminole Commissioner Lee Constantine, Pinellas Commissioner Janet Long, and our friend Jon Stewart.

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