Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 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 — 11.8.18

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.

Last Call for 11.5.18 — 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

Here’s your final reprieve before a deluge of political reporting tomorrow: Volunteer Florida thanked a slew of corporations “for generous donations to the Florida Disaster Fund, which was activated by Gov. Rick Scott to aid those impacted by Hurricane Michael.”

They include Verizon, Chevron, Volkswagen, Shell, The Mosaic Co., WellCare Health Plans, Southwest Airlines, Florida Blue, and Whataburger. Florida Blue made its second donation to the Florida Disaster Fund since Hurricane Michael made landfall.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, I’ve witnessed people coming together to help their neighbors,” Scott said in a statement.

“These donations to the Florida Disaster Fund are another example of that kindness. While our state continues to recover from this devastating storm, we are thankful for everyone who has contributed to help our families.”

The fund, administered by the Volunteer Florida Foundation, is the State of Florida’s private fund established to assist Florida’s communities in times of disaster.

To make a contribution, visit click here or text “DISASTER” to 20222 to make a one-time $10 donation.

Evening Reads

Justice Department to monitor voting in three Florida counties” via Zach Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio: There will be a red wave tomorrow” via Emily Birnbaum of The Hill

Two polls show leads for Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson, but early vote indicates close races” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

The polls tell us something but not everything” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post

DeSantis-mentum in closing days?” via Adam Smith of Tampa Bay Times

Ron DeSantis expecting GOP super voters to make the difference on Tuesday” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Don Cheadle ads call out DeSantis’ racism, tell voters to elect Gillum” via Jenna Amatulli of HuffPost

Gillum responds to Trump cabinet member ‘cotton pickin’ remarks: ‘Go back to Georgia’” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Nate Silver pegs Florida Gov. race at 3 in 4 chance for Gillum” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Gillum is Florida’s homecoming king” via Vann R. Newark II of The Atlantic

Diddy, DJ Khaled, Tiffany Haddish to headline midnight rally for Gillum” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Jeb Bush, Gillum is on the line for you …” via Adam Smith of Tampa Bay Times

Floridians will restore voting rights to ex-cons, another poll says” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Senate GOP committee raises more than $19 million” via The News Service of Florida

‘No Mo’ Play In FL’: Rapper Pastor Troy endorses Joe Wicker” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Florida Insiders make final predictions, pick best and worst campaigns” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Predictions for Tuesday’s elections, and some Florida races to watch” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

15 podcasts to listen to while you’re waiting in line to vote” via A.V. Club

The demise of the moderate Republican” via George Packer of the New Yorker

Quote of the Day

“Democrats lead by 8.3 percentage points in our generic ballot average, a dramatic reversal from 10 days ago when they led by 8.2 percentage points.” — Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis and politics.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Election Day

Polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. as voters choose a new governor, pick a U.S. senator and vote on myriad other races and ballot issues.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron 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 A1 a North, Ponte Vedra Beach.

The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a public-records dispute between the Florida Department of Health and a Broward County nursing home where residents died after Hurricane Irma in 2017. That’s at 9 a.m., 1st DCA Courthouse, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum will cast his vote in the 2018 election at his polling place and then hold a media availability. That’s at 10 a.m., Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 4665 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee.

Election Night watch parties

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will hold an election-night party in Central Florida. That’s at 6 p.m., The Rosen Centre, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

Democratic candidate for Attorney General Sean Shaw will hold his general election night event at 6 p.m., LeMéridien Tampa, 601 N Florida Ave, Tampa. RSVP or get more details on Facebook.

Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum’s election night celebration will be outside Lee Hall on the campus of Florida A&M University. His wife R. Jai, running mate and Orlando businessman Chris King and his wife Kristen will also be there. That’s at 7 p.m., 1601 S. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Tallahassee.

Ashley Moody, the Republican candidate for attorney general, will hold an election-night reception in Hillsborough County. That’s at 7 p.m., Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa.

Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will hold an election-night party at his family’s restaurant in Bay County. That’s at 6 p.m., Captain Anderson’s Restaurant, 5551 North Lagoon Dr., Panama City.

Nikki Fried, the Democratic candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, will hold an election-night party in Broward County. That’s at 7 p.m., Good Spirits, 476 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson of North Florida will host an Election Night Watch Party. That’s at 6:30 p.m., The Moon, 1105 E. Lafayette St., Tallahassee.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.5.18

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

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

Damn it, it 4:31 a.m. and I need to get Sunburn out and then I realize today is David Johnson‘s birthday. His is the rare one that prompts me to stop what I was doing and insert this mention at the top of ‘burn. Because he, with his intelligence, charm, and friendship, deserves such placement. Happy birthday, D.J.

I know, I know. You want the damn poll numbers. Don’t worry; we’ll get to them.

But first, people keep asking me where I believe the race for Florida governor is, especially since I last week predicted a decisive Andrew Gillum win.

Well, in a nutshell, it comes down to this. Democrats are looking at the early voting numbers, and they want to be confident, but after 2014 and 2016, they’re skittish. Saturday Night Live perfectly captured the anxiety many Democrats are feeling the day before the election:

Whether it’s a worried mother (Heidi Gardner) lashing out at her children, a local florist (Kate McKinnon) chugging vases full of alcohol, or a medical doctor (Jonah Hill) huffing laughing gas, the SNL political ad perfectly captures the current state of anxiety Democrats are facing. The sketch’s absurdity was funny, but it was all coming from a place of urgency as the ad made it clear people need to get out and vote.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are equally confident. They believe they have the Democrats right where they want them: Parity with the Democrats in early voting, not losing Independents as badly as the polls suggest, and with tens of thousands more high-propensity voters just waiting to cast their ballot on Election Day.

It’s that last item that should worry Democrats.

I asked Dr. Dan Smith Sunday night how many high-propensity Republican voters were still on the sidelines. By high-propensity, we’re talking about voters who have cast a ballot in four out of the last four statewide elections.

His response:

Ryan Tyson of Associated Industries of Florida uses a different formula to determine voter propensity. In his model, he says there are 196K more Republicans than Democrats left to vote. While Tyson concedes that Democrats have done a tremendous job of turning out the ‘Obama coalition,’ he believes there’s as much evidence to conclude that the Trump coalition is turning out.

Donald Trump won Election Day by more than 300,000 votes. Neither Ron DeSantis or Rick Scott are Trump, but Republican voters see them as his proconsuls in this state. Even if Democrats go into Election Day winning the early vote, they still must win the Independent vote by a wide-enough margin to hold off the expected Republican counterattack.

This is what I call the “Glory” scenario. It’s based on the Academy Award-winning film that ends with the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry attacking Fort Wagner.

As night falls, the regiment is pinned down against the walls of the fort. Attempting to encourage his men, Col. Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is killed. Tripp (Denzel Washington) lifts the flag, rallying the soldiers to continue, but he too is soon shot dead. Forbes (Cary Elwes) takes charge, and the soldiers break through the fort’s defenses. On the brink of victory, Forbes, Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) and the remnants of the 54th are fired upon by a reserve of soldiers.

Maybe it’s not the best metaphor … nor is it probably wise to use any metaphor connected to The Civil War when writing about the racially-charged race for Governor, but it’s one of the best finales in any movie and always worth watching.

Anyway, here are the results of the final statewide survey from St. Pete Polls. Click on the links to read the full polling report.

Andrew Gillum 50%, Ron DeSantis 45%

Bill Nelson 50%, Rick Scott 46%.


@RealDonaldTrump: In all the time I’ve been President, almost two years, never once did Senator Bill Nelson call me to ask for help for the Great State of Florida. I never see him until election time … Lake Okeechobee and all of the hurricane money were a passion for Rick Scott, who called endlessly on behalf of the People of Florida. Vote @ScottforFlorida!

@AnitaKumar01: Instead of Pensacola, FL Republicans had hoped Trump could visit Daytona Beach, which sits along the all-important I-4 corridor, the swing area of the swing state But his schedule allowed him instead to appear at a rally in Pensacola, where many people will likely come from AL

@JenniferJJacobs: Ex-Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, in surprise appearance at Trump rally in Florida, delivered this line: “Trump plus God is a majority.”

—@JoePClements: No serious analyst looks at the (EV) numbers and sees anything but a tide lifting pretty much everyone’s turnout. Not that there can’t be a Blue Wave, but nothing in the EAV returns shows that definitively.

@AbelHarding: .@FlaDems knocked on my door twice today for @AndrewGillum. (I’m guessing they circled back the second time because I didn’t answer the first … or second.) Meanwhile, the @RonDeSantisFL campaign has texted me links to negative stories on Gillum. Which method is more effective?

@Rihanna: FLORIDA: You have the opportunity to make history this election. Let’s #bringithome. Vote @AndrewGillum. And VOTE YES on Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to folks who have already paid their debt to society. VOTE on November 6th!

@DJGroup: If just 37.8% of RiRi’s 88 million followers vote in Florida Tuesday based on propensity models and age breaks it could be very interesting fodder in a @steveschale blog.

—@TroyKinsey: Should @AndrewGillum be elected #Florida’s first African-American Governor Tuesday, national Republicans will have their eye on him. In today’s Times, @FrankBruni writes Trump hand Corey Lewandoski believes Gillum has “caught lightning” as a possible 2020 presidential contender.

@MDixon55: I’m not sure that this year will come down to turn out.

—@SenatorGainer: .@BayDistSchools need shoes. Lots of them. All sizes. These kids lost everything. We are doing better on clothes, but we need shoes. Fast.


More than 4.8M ballots cast ahead of Election Day” via Florida Politics — Nearly 376,000 mail ballots and early votes were reported to the state Division of Elections Sunday, making for more than 4.8 million pre-Election Day votes for the 2018 general election. The day saw Democrats cut into the GOP’s lead by more than 29,000 votes, while unaffiliated and minor party voters further diluted the Republican share of the early vote with another 85,385 ballots recorded Sunday. … As it stands, 1.97 million registered Republicans, 1.94 million registered Democrats and 920,904 independent voters have exercised their franchise. Percentage-wise, Republicans lead Democrats by 0.6 percentage points. Independent voters have cast 19 percent of ballots recorded thus far. … Eight counties — Baker, Citrus, DeSoto, Madison, Manatee, Sumter, Suwannee and Union — had not reported updated totals for the day as of Sunday evening.

How thousands of already cast Florida ballots could be tossed aside without voters knowing” via Pema Leavy of Mother Jones — Florida is one of a handful of states with a signature-matching law. Such laws require that the signature on the envelope of an absentee ballot match the signature on file with county election officials. In a state with razor tight races for governor, US Senate, and many House of Representatives seats, absentee ballots rejected over signature issues could prove greater than the candidates’ margins of victory. Signature problems affect voters of all of all parties and demographics, but data shows young and minority voters, as well as registered Democrats more broadly, are more likely to have their ballots rejected. While Florida counties are required to notify and provide voters with signature problems a chance to correct them before Election Day, county procedures vary widely, and the same demographic groups are less likely to be given an opportunity to fix any error.


Donald Trump uses Pensacola rally to urge voters to elect Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — More than 3,000 people filled the new ST Engineering hangar at the Pensacola International Airport Saturday night to see Trump and erupted into thunderous cheers as Air Force One pulled up to the hangar. “Look at that crowd,” Trump said as he took the stage. “That’s a nice crowd. If this election is based on crowds, they might as well cancel it because we won.” Trump has been holding his campaign’s “Make America Great Again” rallies almost every weekend in the last month ahead of the midterm elections and will have done 11 rallies in the week leading up to Election Day. Trump’s rally in Pensacola was the second in Florida this week.

Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey DeSantis, yesterday joined President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for a rally in Pensacola.

Trump says Democrats would ruin Florida, his second home” via Darlene Superville of The Associated Press — Trump argued that Gillum would “destroy Florida” and claimed that Gillum’s policies would be a “total nightmare” for the state.“ You have only one choice, Ron DeSantis for governor,” Trump told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally at Pensacola International Airport, with Air Force One park right outside of the hangar. “If you want to pay high taxes, you ought to vote for the mayor of Tallahassee,” Trump said. “You will destroy the state that I love.” Trump noted that he also calls Florida home; his Mar-a-Lago estate is located in Palm Beach, and he spends most weekends there in the winter. He also said of the Democrat: “Andrew Gillum is not equipped to be your governor. It’s not for him.”


Millions: Andrew Gillum and DeSantis’ money race for Governor” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — More than $106 million later, Republican DeSantis and Democrat Gillum had all but wrapped the books on their eye-popping cash race for Florida Governor. Each candidate closed their campaign accounts Thursday, recording just shy of $29 million between the two of them … Each candidate’s political committees are still active. But as of Friday, they combined for a total of more than $77 million raised. DeSantis, the now-former congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, raised about $1 million more than Gillum, Tallahassee’s ‘leadership mayor.’ Gillum has currently raised $52.5 million, DeSantis $53.5 million.

Former President Barack Obama orders lunch with Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Sen. Bill Nelson at the Coyo Taco restaurant in Miami. (Image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Poll: Gillum ahead by 3 (but survey leans Democratic)” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Another pollster is showing a lead for Gillum in the race for Governor. The latest survey from Vox Populi has Gillum earning 47 percent support to DeSantis’ 44 percent, with 9 percent of voters undecided. Big grain of salt here: The sample is made up of 42 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans, and 22 percent independents or “other” voters. That +6 Democratic lean would be an incredible outlier among midterm elections in the past 40 years.

As campaign nears close, Gwen Graham slams ‘anti-woman’ DeSantis” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Saturday evening, she broke that relative silence with an unambiguous statement of support for Gillum, and a sharp rebuke of DeSantis as potentially “the most anti-woman Governor in Florida history.” “The stakes could not be higher for Florida women. During his time in Congress, Ron DeSantis was one of the most anti-women and extreme members of Congress,” Graham said. “From voting against equal pay to opposing our right to choose, DeSantis has made clear his opposition to women’s rights. But most disturbing is his 2013 vote against the Violence Against Women Act — legislation that has played a critical role in saving lives and reducing domestic violence.”

Gillum confident ‘souls to the polls’ will give Democrats the early-vote advantage” via Alex Daugherty and Lesley Clark of the Miami Herald — Registered Democrats entered the day trailing registered Republicans in early-vote totals by a slim 28,000 vote margin, and the last-minute push by Gillum and Democrats across the state focused on black churches could give Democrats a tiny advantage in registration totals heading into Election Day. Republicans have held the early-voting advantage for years in Florida. “At this point, we’re typically five or so points behind Republicans in early vote and absentee vote,” Gillum said. “I think we’re a point behind, we’ve closed the gap substantially. Considering that Democrats lose the last few races by less than a point, we’re feeling great heading into Election Day.”

Um, OK — “Michael Cohen encourages people to vote for Gillum” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s ex-attorney took to Twitter to back Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Gillum: “GetOutAndVote,” Cohen tweeted responding to a tweet from Gillum that said “I believe that we will win — but only if we vote.” Cohen also retweeted the Gillum message. Cohen last month called the Trump administration “craziness” and urged people to vote. “Listen, here’s my recommendation. Grab your family, grab your friends, grab your neighbors, and get to the poll, because if not, you are going to have another two or another six years of this craziness,” Cohen said in an interview with CNN. “So, make sure you vote.”

Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs endorses Gillum in new video” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — “I am so proud to endorse Andrew Gillum, who will become the first black Governor of Florida,” Combs says in a video published by the campaign. Combs, who is black, said he’s not just supporting Gillum “because he’s black, it’s because he’s the best man for the job.” A music producer and entrepreneur — whose business endeavors have ranged from spirits to clothing and media — Combs is estimated to have a net worth of $820 million, according to Forbes. Combs said he aligns with Gillum because of the Tallahassee Mayor’s stance on criminal justice reform. Combs also noted Gillum’s support for legalizing recreational marijuana, raising the minimum wage and expanding publicly funded health care.

To view the video, click on the image below:

Fired Gillum campaign worker remains fired up about politics” via Rachel Stamford of the Orlando Sentinel — On Sept. 29, UCF grad Manny Orozco Ballestas made national headlines when he was fired from the Gillum campaign after a now-deleted Instagram picture and tweets were unearthed by a local blogger. Orozco Ballestas was wearing a shirt that said “Dumbf—istan” and had made offensive tweets about women and President Trump between 2012 and 2013. Since Orozco Ballestas was let go, he has not only reflected on his actions, which he called “immature,” but also on how he can continue his political activism in Central Florida. When asked if he saw Orozco Ballestas continuing political activism in Central Florida, Daniel Robles, a senior political science major at UCF, said there wasn’t a doubt in his mind. “There’s a future for Manny, and I hope someone will give it to him.”

At DeSantis rally, Sonny Perdue says Governor’s race ‘so cotton-pickin’ important’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “Public policy matters. Leadership matters,” said Agriculture Secretary Perdue said at a Lakeland rally. “And that is why this election is so cotton-pickin’ important to the state of Florida. I hope you all don’t mess it up.” Perdue is a former governor of Georgia. “You would have to ask Governor Perdue about any of his remarks,” Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for DeSantis’ campaign, said by email. “We were happy to have him in Polk County campaigning with us.” The phrase “cotton-pickin'” bedeviled another Trump Republican earlier this year when the president’s former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, apologized in June for telling a black guest on Fox News, “You’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.” Before Bossie could apologize, program host Ed Henry called the phrase “deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate.”

’America’s Mayor’ Rudy Giuliani slams ‘failed Mayor’ Gillum” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Former New York City Mayor Giuliani bolstered the gubernatorial campaign of DeSantis in Daytona. “America’s Mayor,” who was in prime form at his first stop for the campaign, was most quotable when bashing Democratic candidate Gillum. Calling Gillum a “socialist” and a “failed mayor running for governor,” Giuliani said the election would be a ten-point spread “if the media covered it fairly.” “How about just fair coverage? How about the good things DeSantis might have done … instead of the one or two things he might have done wrong, I don’t know what they are,” Giuliani said.

Ron DeSantis was joined by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani & Attorney General Pam Bondi and nearly 1,000 enthusiastic supporters for a visit to the Volusia County Victory Office.

Assignment editors — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Lara Trump will join DeSantis for a series of get-out-the-vote rallies: 8:30 a.m., Bobcat of Jacksonville, 1182 Suemac Road, Jacksonville; 11 a.m., Orange County victory office, 1329 N. Semoran Boulevard, Suite 109, Orlando.

Assignment editors — Rubio joins DeSantis at an event, 11 a.m., Freedom Pharmacy, 3901 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Assignment editors — The Gillum for Governor campaign bus tour continues: 11:30 a.m. Central time, sunrise worship Center, 2645 Pebble Hill Road, Marianna; 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, Get-Out-The-Vote Fish Fry, Wakulla Community Center, 318 Shadeville Road, Crawfordville; 4:30 p.m. Eastern time, Gillum and elected officials rally supporters and voters, Four Freedoms Park, 112 Range Street, Madison; and 5:30 p.m. Eastern time, Gillum rallies with elected officials, Monticello Opera House, 185 W. Washington St., Monticello.

Assignment editors — Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Chris King will campaign across the I-4 Corridor: 11 a.m., King joins U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for a get-out-the-vote volunteer canvas, FDP Coordinated Campaign Office, 5100 N 1st Ave., St. Petersburg; 1 p.m., King joins former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, 2318 Lyndhurst Drive, Sun City Center; 4 p.m., King joins U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and state Sen. Victor Torres, FDP Coordinated Campaign Office, 104 Church Street, Kissimmee.


Scott, Bill Nelson race to finish line after bruising campaign” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — After millions of dollars, thousands of TV ads and scores of bruising personal attacks, Florida’s nationally watched Senate race between Democratic incumbent Nelson and GOP Gov. Scott is right where it started months ago: a virtual tossup. When Scott formally kicked off the race in April by announcing he would challenge Nelson, the contest was already being shaped by three forces: the shadow of President Donald Trump on the state following his election in 2016, the arrival of thousands of Puerto Ricans to Florida following Hurricane Maria’s devastation last year, and the Parkland gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. Those factors remain in play, but others are crowding the agenda, including the state’s red tide crisis, the impact of Hurricane Michael and a gubernatorial race at the top of the state ticket that features fierce partisans who have energized their bases.

Scott fortune a ‘blessing from God,’ Lindsey Graham says” via Florida Politics — A Friday Scott rally featured Sen. Graham, and the highlight of the red-meat remarks was insight into Scott’s process of deciding to run for Senate. “When I heard Rick was running for the Senate, I got on my knees and said a prayer,” Graham said. “He’s the one guy who could make this a race. Because Florida’s expensive and incumbents are hard to beat.” Graham noted that Scott “started with nothing, and has lived the American Dream. He’s put a lot of his own money into this race. I asked Rick about this, and he said ‘this money is a blessing from God and we’re going to use it for good,’ ” Graham quoted Scott as saying. Graham quipped that “you can do a lot of good as a U.S. Senator.”

Tweet, tweet:


We asked 22 Floridians what they’re thinking about this election year. Here’s what they said.” via Eve Samples of the Treasure Coast Newspapers — Despite their differences, common themes emerged from these Floridians: They feel alienated by the political extremes; They are concerned about Florida’s environmental future; They want leaders who will bring financial stability to their families and businesses; tThe youth of Florida inspires them. The art of listening gets shortchanged in this era when so much competes for our attention; when the most brash views get the most attention. When the din of campaign season quiets after Tuesday’s election, we hope the voices of everyday Floridians will be more clearly heard.

Democrats lead in House preferences, but positive views of the economy and concern about border security may buoy Republicans, poll finds” via Dan Balz and Scott Clement of The Washington Post — According to a new Washington Post-ABC News national poll registered voters prefer Democratic candidates for the House over Republican candidates by 50 percent to 43 percent. That marks a slight decline from last month when Democrats led on the generic congressional ballot by 11 points, and a bigger drop from August when they enjoyed a 14-point advantage. Democrats also have a 51-to- 44 percent advantage among likely voters identified by The Post. That seven-point margin, which is in line with other polls taken in the past two weeks, puts Democrats roughly within range of what they probably will need in the overall national vote for the House to capture a majority from the Republicans, based on calculations from previous midterm campaigns.

Border security is one of the top issues on the minds of voters in 2018.

Hurricane Michael’s devastation in Florida GOP rich Panhandle could impact midterm election” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — Michael has taken its toll on this GOP stronghold, which includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Jackson, Gulf, Liberty, Washington and Gadsden counties. All but Gadsden, which leans Democratic, help make up the deep red swath of Republican support throughout Florida’s Panhandle. The counties are lagging in early voting turnout and absentee ballots returned compared to the rest of the state, with two — Liberty and Jackson — serving as the only counties in the state that saw a decrease in ballots cast early with five days left before Election Day compared to the same period during the 2014 midterm election. Data shows these eight counties combined during the last midterm in 2014 had a voter turnout percentage that matched the statewide turnout with five days before the election. This year, they are falling behind the statewide turnout rate by six points, mostly because of a drop in absentee ballots returned.

Happening today — Early voting continues in hurricane-affected counties of Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf and Jackson counties. An executive order from Gov. Scott extended the early-voting deadline in those counties.

Feds ask for help in policing the vote Tuesday — North Florida’s top federal prosecutor says to let him know of any “complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses” as part of the U.S. Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program. U.S. Attorney Christopher Canova said he “will be on duty as District Election Officer in the Northern District of Florida while the polls are open. He can be reached at 850-942-8430. In addition, the FBI will have special agents available … to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day.” The local FBI office can be reached at 904-248-7000. Complaints about possible violations of federal voting rights laws — such as intimidating or bribing voters, or marking ballots for voters without their input — can be made directly to the department’s Voting Section at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767, by email at, or by complaint form here.

Key to election security, Florida’s voter rolls have troubled tech history” via Pat Beall of the Palm Beach Post — Long before Florida’s online voter registration system malfunctioned and temporarily throttled back new registrations last month, long before Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher called it a glitch-prone “mess” in need of review, Florida’s system for maintaining voter registration records was dogged by reports of serious flaws. Everything from software security to unauthorized access to voters’ personal information were among the problems cited in Auditor General reports and follow-ups from 2006 through mid-2015. Last month, Bucher discovered a new problem: Just as Floridians are poised to head to the polls for the most contested midterm elections in recent memory, the state’s brand-new online voter registration system crashed … you don’t have to fiddle with the vote-counting software to fiddle with the vote.

In Florida, Republican candidates are talking about climate change — because they have to” via Zahra Hirji of BuzzFeed News — In Florida in 2018, there’s no debate: Hurricanes, rising seas, and algal blooms are influencing voters. The lingering visuals of dead fish and muddied oceans have made people care about the environment. Both Democratic and Republican campaigns told BuzzFeed News that Florida voters are bringing up these issues. So in response, the candidates are talking about it. They talk about it differently, though. Republicans will talk about resiliency and, occasionally, about rising seas (especially if they’re in Miami). But most of the time, they stay focused tightly on the way environmental disaster impacts local business, infrastructure, and tourism — and not the underlying cause. Democrats, meanwhile, are far more likely to link climate change to hurricanes and red tide, use it to push for renewable energy, and describe it as an urgent, even existential problem.

Groups making final push to get Hispanic voters to the polls” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Orlando Sentinel — “We’re on the right track, but this doesn’t end until 7 at night Nov. 6,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota. “I think this year our community realized that not voting has negative results.” The organizations, including the nonpartisan LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the Florida Immigrant Coalition, announced Thursday they were ramping up efforts at Central Florida precincts to make sure voters are provided with Spanish-language materials and were not being turned away at the polls. LatinoJustice will have volunteers stationed outside early voting sites in Lake, Polk, Seminole, Hillsborough, Orange and Osceola counties throughout the weekend and on Election Day. Among registered Hispanic voters statewide, there are about 856,500 Democrats and 536,000 Republicans. About 790,000 registered Hispanics are not affiliated with any party.

These are the stakes for LGBTQ Floridians in the 2018 election, advocates say” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The state’s lack of anti-discrimination protections is one of the reasons why advocates — and recent history — say the 2018 elections could play a huge role in shaping the future of LGBTQ rights in Florida. In particular, the next governor could do two major things to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the public arena, advocates say. He could sign the Competitive Workforce Act, a law, or sign an executive order with similar language banning discrimination in state offices and public housing. “The support in Tallahassee for statewide nondiscrimination protections has been strong and bipartisan for years,” said Nadine Smith, the co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, one of the state’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy groups. “The problem really has boiled down to leadership’s unwillingness to let the bill move.”

Politics and the pulpit: Have we crossed the line?” via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger — Evangelical leaders — those from Protestant denominations that emphasize conservative positions on such social issues as abortion and gay rights — have been aligned with the Republican Party since the rise of the Moral Majority movement in the late 1970s. Evangelicals supported previous Republican presidents, from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush. The ardor with which prominent evangelicals have embraced Trump, though, seems a different phenomenon, said R. Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Griffith said it seems that even churches have become more politically segregated in recent decades. “It does feel that way, in the sense that I think 20 or 30 years ago you had religious congregations that were often populated by people across a wide political spectrum,” she said. “More and more congregations themselves have sort of regrouped, or people have regrouped themselves, until there tend to be congregations that are nearly all Republican and other congregations that are nearly all Democrat, or at least liberal. Has that created the polarization, or is it a result of it?”


Nikki Fried holds slim lead in final poll of Ag. Commissioner race” via Florida Politics — That’s according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls. The poll, commissioned by Florida Politics, found Fried leading by just under a percentage point with 6 percent of voters still undecided. The same survey found Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum with a 2-point edge over former U.S. Rep. DeSantis as well as a slim lead for current Gov. Scott in his campaign to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson. In each of the three measures, the Democratic candidate had a significant edge in the early vote while the GOP nominee led among voters yet to cast their ballot. Those leads came despite Republicans outnumbering Democrats in early ballot returns. As of Saturday, nearly 4.5 million Floridians had cast their ballots early.

Nikki Fried is holding a slim lead in the final poll of the Agriculture Commissioner race.

Dog-racing ban still polling under required 60 percent” via Florida Politics — A new poll suggests a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending live dog racing in Florida may not pass. The survey by St. Pete Polls shows a total of 50 percent polled are for Amendment 13, while 38 percent are opposed and nearly 12 percent are still undecided just a days before the general election. Amendments, however, need no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the state’s governing document. That means the campaign to pass the measure will need to convince many of the uncertain to come over to their side in the next few days. More significantly, of those who said they already voted, 53 ½ percent voted ‘yes,’ a little over 38 percent voted ‘no.’

—“If amendment banning greyhound racing passes, what’s next for Sanford Orlando dog track?” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel

Missing: Ross Spano’s financial disclosure required to run for Congress” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — A California graduate student with interest in politics said he filed a complaint to the U.S. Justice Department about the failure to file. Spano said he “understood it was filed” by his staff, but that if it hasn’t been, “We’ll make sure it’s done promptly.” The report could show a source for the personal money Spano has put into his campaign, $104,500 as of Oct. 17. Spano’s state financial disclosures, filed as a state House member, which require less information than the form for federal candidates, don’t appear to show enough cash available to provide that amount. Asked about that, Spano said, “State disclosures don’t require us to indicate anything that my wife has. … She can certainly loan it to me.”

Oops: Retracted ‘With Honor’ negative ad was back on the air” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A retracted ad from pro-veterans group With Honor criticizing Democratic congressional candidate Lauren Baer is apparently still on the air, after it was broadcast on WPTV in West Palm Beach. In a statement, With Honor says the ad was run in error, and that the organization is investigating why the ad was still running as of Friday night. As reported by Florida Politics, the ad hammers Baer over an article she wrote while at Harvard, criticizing American foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11. In a statement to Florida Politics, With Honor says that was a mistake. “With Honor has found out that the NBC affiliate accidentally aired the wrong ad. They did receive our media buyer’s traffic change on (Oct. 25) as requested.”

Florida’s Congressional District 26 selected as part of ‘Axios 8’ — Mike Allen writes in his “Axios AM Deep Dive” from Saturday that the eight races “include not just high-profile races, but ones that would only be competitive if the ‘blue wave’ is massive. The bottom line: Democrats are still riding a blue wave — but it’s not strong enough to help them win all the races that looked within their reach earlier in the cycle.” Of CD 26, he writes, “Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is trying to keep his seat in a district won by Hillary Clinton. In September, he was leading Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell 47 percent to 44 percent, but now she’s leading 45 percent to 44 percent.”

Donna Shalala will ‘get it done for us,’ say supporters in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shalala is letting her supporters make her closing argument to voters in the campaign’s final ad of the 2018 midterm elections. Shalala is competing for the seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District against Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar and nonparty affiliated candidate Mayra Joli. Shalala’s new spot, titled “Getting It Done for Us,” features multiple supporters of her campaign reading off a list of reasons why they plan to cast their vote for the Democrat. The video cuts between different supporters as they all make their case. “The only way to take on Donald Trump and change Washington is by electing someone who’s taken on the toughest battles for our community and won,” the various supporters say.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Alex Rodriguez records robocall for Shalala” via Tal Axelrod of The Hill — Former professional baseball player Rodriguez recorded a robocall for Shalala. “Hi, this is Alex Rodriguez asking you to support my friend Donna Shalala for Congress. Donna Shalala is a great Miamian who was president of the University of Miami for 14 years and led us to new heights. In addition to educating fellow Miamians, Donna also helped to create over 5,000 jobs with an annual economic impact of six billion for South Florida,” Rodriguez said in the call.

Maria Elvira Salazar files complaint with IRS for ‘misleading’ mailer attacking health care stance” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Salazar, who is running to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional district, said she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act but maintain the federal law’s protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. Under current law, championed by then-President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, health insurance companies can’t deny coverage or charge patients more because of health problems they had before their new health coverage began. In a political mailer sent to a voter in District 27, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit states that Salazar does not “support requiring health insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions” and that her opponent, Democrat Donna Shalala, does.


Attacks step up on Mel Martin, but little promo for Tommy Wright” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A barrage of Republican advertising in state Senate District 14 offers input on Democrat Martin’s political agenda — whether real or imagined. Mailers picture comparisons of Martin’s platform to government funding for cougars in treadmills and assign views on term limits Martin never stated. But one thing largely absent from political discourse in the race? The name or face of GOP candidate Wright. Wright, meanwhile, has been completely mum. Florida Politics caught up with Wright when he attended a rally for Trump in Fort Myers. Wright declined to speak about the race, and stressed he isn’t talking to any media.

Final poll of SD 18 offers hope to both Dana Young and Janet Cruz” via Florida Politics — Cruz is inches ahead of Young in the battleground race for Tampa-based Senate District 18. A new survey from St. Pete Polls found Cruz with a point-and-a-half lead over Young with 7 percent of likely voters still undecided, that lead falls well within the poll’s margin of error. … Cruz’ lead stems from a 12-point advantage in the early vote, 54-42 percent — more than two-thirds of those polled said they had already cast their ballots. Young has more than a shred of hope, however, thanks to the voters who are waiting until Election Day favoring her by a wide margin: 53-32 percent. … Young holds a 5-point edge over Cruz among women, which counters the national trend of female voters preferring Democratic candidates in the 2018 cycle. Meanwhile, male voters prefer Cruz 51-44 percent. … The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Young finishes SD 18 campaign with pair of ads” via Florida Politics — Finishing up her re-election bid for Senate District 18 strong, Young released two testimonial ads — one with her mom, Nancy Duden, and the other with Andrew Pollack, dad of Meadow Pollack, who was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy. The testimonial ads speak to Young’s character, as well as her record of fighting for Florida’s kids through education policies and funding or supporting school safety reform, crisis training, and mental health services During the 2018 Legislative Session.

To view the ad with Pollack, click on the image below:

To view the ad with Duden, click on the image below:

Margaret Good spends nearly half a million — again” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The final financial reports before the Nov. 6 general election show Good through Nov. 1 raised $542,192, and that she spent $487,292 as of Nov. 1. The bulk of that money has gone into advertising blasting airwaves and mailboxes in Florida House District 72. Good spent $62,160 between Oct. 20 and Nov. 1, mostly on advertising with 76 Words in Washington, D.C. and with GPS Impact in Iowa. While boosting name recognition never hurts, it’s worth noting Good already won an election in the district earlier this year.

Robert Asencio tops Anthony Rodriguez in fundraising once again” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The final campaign finance reports are into the Florida Division of Elections, and they showed Democratic state Rep. Asencio once again ahead of Rodriguez. Rodriguez has kept it competitive in recent reporting periods. But Asencio has brought in more outside money in each of the last four reports filed with the state. Asencio earned just over $37,000 from Oct. 20 to Nov. 1 while spending more than $33,000. A handful of interest group chipped into Asencio’s re-election bid, including clean energy group Ygrene Energy Fund, Florida Workers’ Advocates, and Latino Rising. Asencio’s spending mainly went toward a pair of ad buys for $13,000 and 12,1000 each.

With $200 million in play, tax vote carries high stakes for Palm Beach County schools” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County public schools are betting big that voters will support a four-year property tax hike to pay for higher teacher salaries and more police officers, psychologists and counselors at schools. With $200 million a year in play, the high stakes have many educators nervous. The school board has approved spending up to $372,000 on a promotional campaign to raise awareness about the referendum. Teachers have debated for weeks on social media whether they would risk being fired if it fails. Elevating those concerns, Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy last month conjured a doomsday scenario if voters reject it, saying that it “will necessitate dramatic budget cuts across all schools and departments.”

Pensacola Mayor’s race likely most expensive in history, attracts state political action committee” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — The two candidates running for Pensacola Mayor have raised nearly $425,000 collectively. That number is more than double the $195,760 raised during the first “strong mayor” race in 2010 between the five candidates who filed to run at that time. Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer has outraised Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson by more than $90,000, for a campaign chest of $258,164. Robinson has raised $166,747 for his campaign. Most of the fundraising and spending occurred during the Primary Election when the race was narrowed down from a pool of six candidates. Since the primary on Aug. 28, Spencer has raised more than $93,300 and Robinson has raised more than $44,300. But the candidates’ campaign money is not the only money in the race. A statewide political action committee has gotten involved in the race and is sending out flyers attacking Robinson for taking a salary during his 12 years on the commission. County Commissioner’s salaries are set by the state and are not a local decision.

’Dark day for Tallahassee politics’: City commission campaigns get nasty in last week” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee residents have been bombarded with flyers and TV ads painting certain mayoral and city commission candidates in a negative light. In the race for City Commission seat 3, a flyer distributed by Citizens for Principled Leadership shows restaurant and bar owner Jeremy Matlow’s mug shot from the Alachua County Jail when he was arrested several years ago for selling counterfeit T-shirts with the UF logo on them. The same organization, whose chairman is Republican Party campaign strategist and lobbyist Bill Helmich, also sent out a slick, two-page mailer supporting Matlow’s opponent, Lisa Brown, CEO of Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union. “It’s a dark day for Tallahassee politics,” Matlow said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “You get to the last week of the election and campaigns start to get desperate. Today we learned our opponent and her allies in the Republican Party decided to throw mud.”


Lauren Book among potential targets for accused mail bomber” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — FBI agents came to Book’s home to inform her of concerns that a pipe bomb may yet be sent to her, the Plantation Democrat said. “When I went into this, I knew politics could be messy,” Book said, “but not somebody sending you a pipe bomb filled with glass to blow you and your kids up.” Book wasn’t home when agents arrived. She was at the airport about to fly to Tallahassee for a United Way Women’s Leadership Breakfast to hear CNN host and author Lisa Ling speak. But husband Blair Byrnes and her two infants were at home. As she sat at an airport ready to board a plane, Book listened to FBI agents brief her from her living room while her children napped upstairs. The agents told Book that Cesar Sayoc, the man investigators believe sent explosive materials to more than a dozen left-leaning public figures in American politics, had also done research on Book’s record of public service.

Lauren Book learned she was among the potential targets for the accused mail bomber.

What lawmakers should be reading: “Death of a Manatee County informant” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Family and friends of Christopher Boston say, given his long history of addiction, he should never have been used as a confidential informant by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office … (He) was shot and killed and dumped by the side of the road … “Rachel’s Law,” which was the first comprehensive legislation of its kind in the country, (was) implemented in 2009. It took important new steps toward holding (law enforcement) agencies more accountable by requiring them to provide guidelines for the safety of informants and also by requiring them to refer certain informants to substance abuse treatment programs. But some feel that the statute did not go far enough.

PSC to weigh plan for electrical repairs” via the News Service of Florida — Florida Public Utilities, which serves about 13,000 customers in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty counties, filed the proposal Thursday at the state Public Service Commission. Under it, the utility would pay upfront costs for electrical repairs to homes and then recoup the money from the customers over the following year. The program would be optional for customers and would finance repairs up to $1,500. Florida Public Utilities would not charge interest on the money used for repairs but would collect a $20 administrative fee.

Sweetwater commission candidate who bemoaned corruption accused of cocaine dealing” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Jose Mejia, 29, was arrested at his Sweetwater home and charged with three counts of cocaine trafficking. Two other men, Christopher Laboy, 24, and Angel Bedecia Campo, 63, were also arrested and charged. The arrest was made by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which had help from Sweetwater police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Miami-Dade prosecutors. FDLE did not release details of the investigation, saying only that it began after agents got “information from a confidential source.” Mejia was booked into a Miami-Dade jail late Friday. It was unclear if he had a defense lawyer. The candidate maintained an active campaign website and Twitter page, but is not on Tuesday’s general election ballot. Sweetwater is not scheduled for an election until 2019. He is challenging Sweetwater Commissioner Manuel Duasso.

Sweetwater Commission candidate Jose Mejia arrested on cocaine trafficking charges.

They already felt unwelcome in Tierra Verde. Then they saw the ‘graves’ of Trump’s critics” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — Judson Kidd and James Donovan are a gay couple with an adopted black son. From the day they moved into their waterfront house last summer, they never felt welcomed in the conservative, overwhelmingly white community of Tierra Verde. Neighbors never waved or introduced themselves, they said. One mother yanked her daughter away when she started to play with 2-year-old Van. Then came Halloween, and the disturbing decorations at the big house up the street. The yard had been transformed into a graveyard. “CNN,’’ was written on one white cross, with a gruesome gray skull at its base. Other crosses bore the names of Democrats Hillary ClintonNancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. A firepit contained a jumble of bones and a cross marked “George Soros,’’ the Jewish billionaire who supports liberal causes. “This is pathetic,” he said of the graveyard display. “Can’t we take the politics out of Halloween?” That elicited a quick response: “You’re disgusting. If you don’t like it why don’t you move.”


A gunman fatally shot two women at a Florida yoga studio, wounded five other people and then killed himself on Friday.

The two women killed were Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, a faculty member at Florida State University, and Maura Binkley, 21, a student at the university.

A shooting at Tallahassee yoga studio left 3 dead, including the gunman.

More details are unfolding about the gunman, 40-year-old Scott PBeierle. As of Sunday evening, it had been reported that Beirle had recorded misogynistic videos and had a history of harassing women, including instances of sexual harassment.

The community: Florida State University came together Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the shooting. “We understand that this attack is having ripple effects throughout our community, and we are providing support and comfort to the students, families and friends of all those affected,” FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement.

From Gillum: The Tallahassee Mayor broke from the campaign trail Friday night and spent time with officials and members of the media in the capital city. “I’m deeply appreciative of law enforcement’s quick response to the shooting at the yoga facility in Tallahassee today,” tweeted Gillum shortly after the tragedy.

For more updates: The Tallahassee Democrat is aggregating facts as they unearth here.

Dr. Nancy Van Vessem worked to make community better” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — An internist, and chief medical officer for Capital Health Plan where she worked for more than 20 years, she was largely responsible for the national recognition of the insurance group, said Assistant Medical Director Dr. Moritz Dehler. “She was always looking for the best she could for the community at large,” Dehler said. “Her vision of taking care of the quality of the doctors we engage and the affordability of keeping the health plan in reach of state workers and people who have access to it was her mission.” Yoga was a safe haven for Van Vessem, a private joy in life. Dehler worked with her for 15 years, the last decade or so in her role as CMO. He saw her Friday afternoon in the CHP parking lot as she headed out to the Friday night class. She had a big smile on her face.

Maura Binkley‘just wanted to help other people’” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — The 21-year-old Florida State student was working on a lesson plan and had just asked her mom for advice on the right thing to wear for her interview. She wanted to nail it. “She just wanted to help other people,” said her dad Jeff Binkley. “That’s all she ever wanted to do.” His bright, beautiful only daughter was killed Friday evening when a gunman opened fire at Hot Yoga Tallahassee on Thomasville Road. It was a place she would go to maintain a balanced workout, something that was important to her. Binkley said Tallahassee police told him the incident was a random act. On Saturday, he and his wife, Margaret, drove to Tallahassee from the family’s hometown of Atlanta to meet in person with investigators.


The retrenchment election” via David Brooks of The New York Times — In urban America people talk about Trump constantly. In rural America, people generally avoid the subject. Even if 80 percent of the locals support Trump, you never know how somebody will react if you mention his name — they might call you a racist — so it’s not a safe topic of conversation. The other big impression I get is that grand canyons now separate different sectors of American society and these canyons are harder and harder to cross. As Emma Green noted in The Atlantic, for many, progressivism isn’t just a set of political beliefs; it’s a set of liturgies, rituals and moral doctrines for the secular unchurched. Politics is no longer mainly about disagreeing on issues. It’s about being in entirely separate conversations. The Venn diagram is dead. There’s no overlapping area.

Why I’m voting for Andrew Gillum (a Democrat!)” via Ana Navarro of CNN — DeSantis ran a primary campaign in which he portrayed himself as Trump’s Mini-Me. His signature issue during the primary was building a wall, which is weird because, well, Florida is not a border state. It’s a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides. Trump weighed in heavily in favor of DeSantis during the primary, who is now deeply in his debt. I don’t want a Trump echo chamber for governor in Florida. I want a governor who puts the interest of the state above loyalty to a president of his party. Both Trump has personally attacked Gillum and me. Both Gillum and I were the targets of Twitter threats by Cesar Sayoc. Within hours of Sayoc’s court arraignment, Trump was attacking Gillum, calling him a “thief” and claiming that if elected, he would “turn Florida into Venezuela.” That last part really strikes a raw nerve for me.

Voters should end Florida’s partisan, racist policy of denying voting rights to felons” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — A recent Palm Beach Post investigation uncovered just how unfair, partisan and arbitrary the current system of restoring rights can be: Scott’s brand of justice has kept Democrats and African-American felons from getting their rights restored at much higher rates than Republicans and whites. Blacks accounted for 27 percent of those who had their voting rights restored but 43 percent of those released from prisons. In fact, Scott has granted voting rights to the lowest percentage of blacks in 50 years, the Post found. It’s stunning to watch a video that shows the indignities endured by people who have served their time and have filed an application to be allowed to vote again and waited for years for this hearing. They’re asked demeaning questions that have no relevance whatsoever, like by how many partners they have conceived their children. If you think that a crime committed and atoned for shouldn’t determine who you are for the rest of your life, you need to give Amendment 4 a yes vote.


Personnel note: Baylor Johnson leaving American Civil Liberties Union of Florida — Johnson is departing this week as the civil-rights organization’s Communications Director to join the ACLU of Texas, he said Friday. He’ll be deputy communications director there. “This was an opportunity to return to my home state and be nearer to family, while also staying in a communications leadership position within an organization I care deeply about, and I was excited to take it,” he said. He’s been with ACLU of Florida since 2010, starting as Online Advocacy Coordinator. The Lone Star State native graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008, his online bio says. Among other things, he was a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives for Democratic state Rep. Paula Pierson, who served 2007-10.

Personnel note: Orlando Sentinel hires FSU sports reporter — Chaunte’l Powell tweeted last month that she was leaving the Albany (Georgia) Herald for Tallahassee, to cover Florida State University athletics for The Orlando Sentinel. “I’m incredibly excited to start this new chapter and equally thankful for the last four years here in Albany,” she wrote. Powell covered Albany State. She got her degree in print journalism from Hampton University in 2012. She then did stints at New Mexico’s Roswell Daily Record and in radio before landing in Albany in 2014.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Howard Adams, Pennington: Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Florida Network of Youth and Family Services

Kim CaseMark DelegalBob Martinez, Holland & Knight: Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority

Rebecca DeLaRosa: Palm Beach County

Leslie DughiFred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: TransForce

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Shark Allies

David Harvey, David F. Harvey & Associates: Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office

Ryan Kimmey: Florida Osteopathic Medical Association

Nancy Stewart, Nancy Black Stewart: Capital Insurance Agency

Mark Vincent: New York Life Insurance Company

Nigeria’s main opposition party has signed up a million-dollar Trump lobbyist ahead of 2019 elections” via Yomi Kazeem of Quartz Africa — The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition group, has signed up Ballard Partners … ahead of general elections next February. The firm will earn $1.1 million per year. The PDP’s presidential candidate is Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007 and former ally of current President Muhammadu Buhari. Among its many duties, documents suggest Ballard Partners will work with a “special focus in the coming months on maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference in order to ensure the success and fairness of Nigeria’s national election for president in 2019.” Ballard Partners will also advise the PDP on enhancing US-Nigeria relations.

— ALOE —

Not so big three: Noles, Gators and Canes all lose, again” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — The “Big Three” of Sunshine State football are struggling simultaneously right now, in historic fashion. Florida lost to Missouri 38-17 on Saturday, Florida State fell against North Carolina State 47-28 and Miami lost to Duke 20-12, a trio of defeats that marked only the third day in the last 40 years where all three played and lost. Losing on the same day also happened on Oct. 30, 2004, and Oct. 8, 2011 — it didn’t happen last weekend because Miami lost to Boston College on Friday night, before Florida lost to Georgia on Saturday and Florida State lost 59-10 to Clemson. Take away the 2004, 2011 and 2018 debacles, and the most recent instance of Florida, Florida State and Miami losing on the same day was Oct. 14, 1978. “We didn’t play very well, at all,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said Saturday.

ICYMI from Takeaways from Tallahassee’: New cigar bar slated for capital — The Urban Tallahassee website reports that the old Lester & Company Fine Jewelry store at 926 N. Monroe St. will become the city’s newest cigar lounge. The bar is an offshoot of Cigars of Tally, the Market Street outpost that’s been around for several years and owned by Lila Jaber and her husband Saed. Jaber, a former Public Service Commissioner, is now Regional Managing Shareholder for the Gunster law and lobbying firm. She confirmed the news last week, saying they plan to open early next year. The development means Fuma Cigar Social, the cigar bar next to Lucky Goat Coffee also on North Monroe, will have competition within walking distance.

The Lester & Company Fine Jewelry store on Monroe Street will be making way for Tallahassee’s newest cigar bar. (Image via Urban Tallahassee)

Swipe left, swipe right: Political campaigning invades dating apps” via Kristina Peterson and Natalie Andrews of The Wall Street Journal — With the midterms fast approaching, and young people generally less likely than those older to vote, apps and events typically used for finding romance are instead being deployed by those who want to entice their fellow citizens to come to a polling station. Phoenix-area resident Sarah Lasker sought out eligible swing voters on the dating app Bumble, seeking to promote Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s tight race in Arizona against GOP Rep. Martha McSally for an open Senate seat. Some responded appreciatively. Others sent photos of themselves wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, a sign that her attempts to politically woo them weren’t successful. Political conversations are fine on Tinder, said a spokeswoman for the Match Group Inc.-owned app, but political solicitation or advertising isn’t. Users can report people for violating the terms of service, and some have been banned for campaigning, she said.

Happy birthday — Celebrating over the weekend was state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Planning pays off

Financially, Florida is equipped to weather the financial losses incurred by Hurricane Michael.

That’s according to Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who this week cited a recent analysis of the state’s financial resiliency from credit reporting agency Moody’s Investment Service.

“The news from Moody’s Investors Service that Florida will not only weather Hurricane Michael, but our response and resiliency is viewed as a credit positive, is the news that the impacted communities and our state need to hear at this time,” Patronis said.

CFO Jimmy Patronis says preparation, planning was key to keeping Florida financially healthy during hurricane season.

Indeed, Moody’s concluded the estimated $702 million cost of Hurricane Michael would be reimbursed by the feds, “a credit positive,” per Moody’s.

While that estimate is likely to increase as the need for individual assistance and transitional support assistance unfolds, “the state maintains ample reserves to manage unanticipated budget needs, including storm-related expenditures.”

Those same reserves were a driving factor behind Florida’s bump to a AAA credit rating — the best achievable — in June.

At the local level, a similar narrative of financial resiliency is applicable. Per Moody’s, “local governments in Florida are in a healthy financial position, despite two hurricanes in the past two years, partly because of federal financial assistance and strong local reserves.”

“Our solid fiscal health has put us in a good position to not only recover but come back stronger than ever,” Patronis said.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Danny McAuliffe, Drew Wilson, Jim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Take 5

Bondi approves marijuana-based drug — Attorney General Pam Bondi this week issued an emergency rule allowing a new drug for child epilepsy patients that contains CBD, a ‘non-euphoric’ chemical from cannabis. According to Bondi, as many as 4,000 Floridians, many of whom are children, could use the drug, known as Epidiolex. A delay or disruption to the rule could “result in serious bodily harm to seriously ill Floridians.” According to the filing, Bondi intends to follow up with the 2019 Legislature to memorialize the rule through legislation. The term-limited Attorney General has used her authority “to schedule 133 chemical compounds commonly used in deadly synthetic drugs,” according to Bondi’s spokesman Whitney Ray. But, this week’s news marked the “the first time she has used her authority to de-schedule a drug.”

Scott asks Supreme Court to reconsider nominee ruling — Lawyers for Gov. Rick Scott this week petitioned the state Supreme Court, arguing justices may have “misapprehended” Scott’s arguments in the legal fight over who has the authority to fill three upcoming high court vacancies. Justices earlier this month ruled that the next Governor will have the authority to appoint the three new justices. But this week, lawyers for Scott said that ruling the focused on the “scope of the gubernatorial appointment power.” This time, Scott’s lawyers are making an argument about the nomination process. The ruling that determined the next Governor can appoint the new justices also ruled that the nominating process “begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office,” as reported by the News Service of Florida.

Supreme Court rules in car-weapon case — Florida Supreme Court justices in a 6-1 decision this week upheld a lower court’s classification of a car as a “weapon” in a manslaughter case. Adam Shepard, reports the News Service of Florida, fatally struck Spencer Schott with a car in January 2011. Once convicted, Shepard received a harsher sentence because the car was reclassified as a “weapon.” The high court affirmed the reclassification this week: “Here, the plain and ordinary meaning of the word ‘weapon’ includes not only those objects designed with the purpose of injuring or killing another, such as guns, clubs or swords, but also any object used with the intent to cause harm,” Justice Jorge Labarga wrote in an opinion joined by Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson. “This is evident in dictionary definitions, which consistently define ‘weapon’ to include objects used as weapons, even if they were not designed for that purpose.”

Former Speakers kick-start Michael relief effort — Former Republican Florida House Speakers Will Weatherford and Allan Bense this week launched the 850 REBUILD Initiative, challenging other entities and people to “donate, volunteer, visit and invest” in the Big Bend and Panhandle areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael, which swept through North Florida Oct. 10. Kicking off the effort is a $25,000 donation from Bense, who presided over the Florida House from 2004-06. By enlisting help from several nonprofit organizations, along with public-private agencies VISIT Florida and Volunteer Florida, the coalition hopes to accomplish its multipronged goal. “This effort, REBUILD 850, is about making sure the Panhandle is not forgotten,” said Weatherford. Complementing REBUILD 850 is news last week that VISIT Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, intends to spend $5.1 million on an advertising effort in support of tourism in the affected region.

Early voting ballots mount — More than 2 million Floridians already have voted ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election. Republicans cast — via by mail or early voting — nearly 920,000 ballots by Friday morning. Just more than 880,000 ballots returned through the same period came from registered Democrats. The remaining 200,000 ballots came from nonparty affiliated voters. Remaining vote-by-mail ballots requested by Republicans total nearly 380,000. Democrats have yet to return nearly 500,000 vote-by-mail ballots requested. In the Aug. 28 primary election, approximately 4 million Floridians cast ballots by mail or at early polling locations. Early voting locations are required to stay open through Saturday. In eight counties in the North Florida region hit hardest by Hurricane Michael, early voting locations have the option to stay open through Election Day.

Scott invests in final phase of Everglades highway lift

The Tamiami Trail, the portion of US 41 pavement that connects Tampa to Miami, could soon see ramped up efforts to lift a portion of the road over the Everglades.

Gov. Rick Scott this week directed the state Department of Transportation to pour $3.5 million into the final phase of the highway project, which seeks to raise portions of the Tamiami Trail to allow more water to flow south through the Everglades.

Gov. Rick Scott announces a $3.5M investment to finish Everglades highway project.

Scott, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, faulted the federal government for remaining “$1 billion behind in its commitments.”

“With today’s announcement, we are proving once again that when Congress fails and stalls, Florida acts,” Scott said. “During my time as Governor, we have worked relentlessly to protect and restore the Everglades, and I am proud to direct even more funding today to help complete the Tamiami Trail project which raises nearly 6 miles of this important road allowing billions of gallons of water to flow south.”

The Governor also is directing the state Department of Environmental Protection to request an additional $40 million to help complete the project.

Job Growth Grant Fund dishes out $28M

Eight more job-growth projects will soon be underway with monetary support from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

Gov. Rick Scott approved $28.6 million in grants this week, noting the funded projects are expected to improve public infrastructure and enhance workforce training in the Sunshine State.

Gov. Rick Scott approved nearly $30 million for the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, funding an additional eight job-growth projects.

“The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund supports job growth through projects that allow communities to meet the changing infrastructure and workforce needs for their regions, encouraging business to invest and expand in Florida, which means more opportunities for Florida families,” Scott said.

With the latest batch of awards, more than $113 million in funding has been doled out to 41 communities across the state since the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was established. More than $39 million has been awarded to 15 rural communities.

The grant fund, overseen by Scott and the Department of Economic Opportunity, has since July received more than 90 proposals requesting more than $531 million in funding. A list of the latest funded projects can be found here.

Instagram of the Week

November is ‘Family Engagement in Education Month’

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is highlighting the need for schools and families to coordinate in support of children during November.

Dubbed “Family Engagement in Education Month,” the awareness initiative seeks to convey to communities the “crucial role of parents and families” play in a child’s education.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is promoting Family Engagement in Education Month.

“We know that when parents and families are involved in a child’s education, the result is higher student achievement and more students prepared for future success,” said Commissioner Stewart. “I encourage all Florida families to get involved throughout the school year, stay informed and continue to make their child’s education a top priority.”

According to the education department, a multitude of positive results is more likely to occur when a parent gets involved in a student’s success. Among them: higher grades, test scores and graduation rates, along with increased motivation and self-esteem.

Online, the education agency has published a toolkit for parents or those looking to help spread the word.

Fundraiser seeks to restock Panhandle bookshelves

Five Florida bookstores are teaming up with the Florida Department of Education and Florida Education Foundation to fund grants that will help schools impacted by Hurricane Michael restock their libraries.

On Saturday and Sunday, the booksellers participating in the “Re-book Re-build” program will dedicate a portion of sale proceeds to the grants. The stores include Bayou Books in Niceville, Books & Books in Coral Gables, MacIntosh Books in Sanibel Island, Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader, and Story & Song in Fernandina Beach.

First Lady Ann Scott, a longtime child literacy advocate, is helping restock libraries after Hurricane Michael.

The resulting grants are expected to help districts and educators in the Big Bend and Panhandle regions purchase books. Those unable to visit one of the stores can give a tax-deductible donation to the Florida Education Foundation.

Commending the effort is First Lady Ann Scott, who spent her eight years at the Governor’s Mansion in part by promoting child literacy.

“Reading has always been important to our family, and I truly believe that a strong foundation of literacy is important for students to achieve their dreams and career goals,” Scott said. “The Re-book to Re-build program is a wonderful opportunity to help impacted schools receive the resources necessary for students to succeed.”

Detzner delivers E-Day update

The 2018 election is three days away and to help Floridians prep for polls, Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent out a “readiness update” with some last-minute info for those yet to cast their ballots.

“I encourage all Florida voters to get to the polls and exercise their right to vote,” Detzner said. “This year’s ballot is long and includes many constitutional amendments, so it is critically important that voters review their sample ballot ahead of time.

Voters in hurricane-ravaged counties can vote early Monday and Tuesday, per an executive order from Gov. Rick Scott.

“Voters can even fill out their sample ballot and bring it with them into the polling place to make casting their official ballot quick and easy. I also encourage eligible voters to take advantage of early voting in their county to avoid the potential for long lines on Election Day.”

The window has closed for requesting a mail ballot, but the door hasn’t shut on early voting yet. Detzner’s refresher: EV will be available in all counties through this evening, and a handful of counties — Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Seminole, St. Lucie, Suwannee and Volusia — will keep the doors open Sunday as well.

Those in the counties hardest hit by Hurricane Michael — Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf and Jackson — will be able to vote early on both Sunday and Monday thanks to an executive order issued by Gov. Scott last month.

Child safety group grades legislative candidates

It’s almost universal for interest groups to grade state lawmakers based on their actions during each legislative session.

But Stop Child Predators, a national child safety advocacy group and nonprofit organization that has spent the last 13 years combating the sexual exploitation of children, is assessing candidates even before they get to the Legislature.

Safety advocates at Stop Child Predators are taking a proactive approach to grade political candidates.

A newly released report card from the group grades more than 30 candidates from both major political parties running for the state House and Senate.

For the most part, candidates did well. Those who took the survey were asked “for their position on topics such as the civil statute of limitations for sexually abusing children, Jessica’s Law and legislation to regulate short-term rentals, which have made tools like sex offender lists obsolete by replacing neighbors with a revolving door of strangers with no way of knowing who is renting the home next door,” according to Stop Child Predators.

“It is encouraging to see our candidates advocate for legislation to improve the safety of our communities,” said Stacie Rumenap, president of the organization. “Our top priority must be to protect our precious children, and these candidates have clearly made child safety a major legislative priority.”

Regulators consider repair help program

State regulators have scheduled an emergency meeting to consider a proposal by Florida Public Utilities Co. that could help Hurricane Michael victims finance electrical repairs to their homes.

The Public Service Commission scheduled the meeting for 1 p.m. Monday in Tallahassee.

State regulators are considering helping pay upfront costs for electrical repairs from Hurricane Michael damage.

The utility would pay upfront costs for electrical repairs to homes and then recoup the money from the customers over the following year. The program would be optional and would finance repairs up to $1,500.

Hurricane Michael caused major damage in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty counties as it moved north, caused all Florida Public Utilities Co. customers in the region to have power outages.

As of Thursday, the utility said it had restored power to 97 percent of customers in the region who can have electricity but that 9 percent of homes cannot be reconnected because of damage to electrical equipment that is the responsibility of the customers.

“In an effort to assist customers faced with the prospect of having to repair customer-owned electrical equipment in order to have service restored, FPUC proposes to offer a temporary program that would allow customers the opportunity to have the repairs made as expeditiously as possible, but with payments spread out over a reasonable period of time.”

— From the News Service of Florida

FSU research seeks to curb wrong-way driving

Wrong-way crashes are the least common, but the most fatal.

That’s what caught the attention of Walter Boot, a cognition and perception expert at Florida State University.

FSU researchers are using virtual reality simulators to help prevent wrong-way driving. (Image via FSU)

Determined to reverse the fatal results of wrong-way driving, which kills nearly 350 people each year, Boot and a team funded in part by the Florida Department of Transportation set out to identify and evaluate effective countermeasures.

Boot recorded live footage of wrong-way countermeasures in use, and those recordings were then uploaded to FSU’s driving simulators. The team then recruited 189 drivers to get behind the wheel of the simulators to test each countermeasure.

“We tested new technology-based, radar-triggered road alerts to determine which worked best,” Boot, an associate professor at FSU’s Department of Psychology, said.

“The evidence we collected suggested these detection-triggered countermeasures will be more effective than traditional wrong-way countermeasures.”

Haunted by hazardous waste?

The Leon County Solid Waste Management Division is collecting haunted TVs and ghoulish light bulbs at the monthly Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Collection. That takes place today, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Public Works Operations Center, 2280 Miccosukee Road.

Businesses and other agencies must call (850) 606-1816 to make an appointment, Monday through Friday, to drop off their items at the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center, 7550 Apalachee Parkway. Some fees will apply.

The monthly Leon County Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection is a hit. (Image via WCTV)

Leon County can’t accept old Halloween costumes (no matter how toxic they look), residents can bring up to 50 pounds of hazardous waste, in addition to their electronics. Only one large-screen television per vehicle will be accepted. Propane tanks must weigh less than 40 pounds, and there is a limit of one tire per participant.

There is also a limit of 25 fluorescent tubes per vehicle at the collection event. Medical sharps, medicines and radioactive waste cannot be accepted. The division cannot take bulky items such as appliances (refrigerators, stoves/ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc.), furniture, yard waste, construction and demolition debris, household garbage or Styrofoam.

Due to limited space, loads over 50 pounds will be directed to the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center, 7550 Apalachee Parkway. Additionally, residents can visit the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center during normal business hours — Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center at (850) 606-1803 or visit for the complete collection schedule and safe packing guide.

Dat’s a lot of debris

How about 20,000 dump trucks’ worth?

That’s the amount of debris in Tallahassee caused by Hurricane Michael, which tore through north Florida last month, delivering a glancing but still strong blow to the capital region.

Tallahassee has more than 20,000 dump trucks worth of debris from Hurricane Michael.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox posted on Facebook this week that city workers have so far “collected 240,000 cubic yards of debris, … surpass(ing) the 202,000 cubic yards that were picked up in 2016” because of Hurricane Hermine.

Storm debris can be “vegetative” (leaves and branches), shingles and siding from homes and buildings, and anything in between.

“With more than 100 trucks in the field, crews continue to work from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week to clear the remaining debris and clean up our city,” Maddox said.

City, County seek hurricane feedback

Leon County Government and the City of Tallahassee will host a “community dialogue session” to talk disaster response and recovery efforts for Hurricane Michael.

On point: Officials want to know how to meet the needs of the community best during future disasters.

At this meeting, staff will give a brief overview. Following the presentation, residents will have an opportunity to share feedback that will be used to enhance future response efforts. Representatives from emergency management agencies will also be in attendance to answer questions.

That’s Thursday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m., Trinity United Methodist Church, in downtown Tallahassee, 120 W. Park Ave.

If you can’t attend, send comments to or

New cigar bar slated for capital

It feels like it’s 1996 all over again.

Urban Tallahassee reported last month that the old Lester & Company Fine Jewelry store at 926 N. Monroe St. will become the city’s newest cigar lounge.

The Lester and Company Fine Jewelry store on Monroe Street will be making way for Tallahassee’s newest cigar bar. (Image via Urban Tallahassee)

“The proposal includes renovation of 2,366 square feet of existing interior building and the addition of 1,079 square feet of outdoor patio space,” the site reports.

By the looks of the “coming soon” sign out front, the bar is an offshoot of Cigars of Tally, the Market Street outpost that’s been around for several years and owned by Lila Jaber and her husband, Saed.

Jaber, a former Public Service Commissioner, is now Regional Managing Shareholder for the Gunster law and lobbying firm. She confirmed the news, saying they plan to open early next year.

The development also means Fuma Cigar Social, the cigar bar next to Lucky Goat Coffee also on North Monroe, will have competition within walking distance.

Calling all animators

The Florida Animation Festival is again accepting submissions for its fourth-annual exhibit.

Held each year at Tallahassee’s All Saints Cinema — formerly an operating passenger-rail Amtrak station — the festival is the only North Florida showcase to recognize and screen world-famous animation. It was launched in 2016 by The Tallahassee Film Society in partnership with The Pod Advertising to honor animation talent.

An audience awaits a showing at the 2016 Florida Animation Festival. (Image via Florida Animation Festival)

But what makes the festival unique is that it’s evolved from airing existing animations to almost entirely screening submissions from artists. In its third year, 90 percent of screened content came from submissions.

Two Florida State University faculty members, Jonathan Stone and Tom Mikota, work on the Florida Animation Festival’s organizing committee. Filmmakers at FSU are encouraged to submit their work.

The festival is set to take place June 13 through June 16 in 2019. Submissions can be entered here.

Beer festival will help Michael relief

The 2018 Florida Tap Invitational continues Saturday in Tallahassee, and now there’s an even better reason to drink the state’s craft beer there.

Organizers will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to Volunteer Florida and the Florida Disaster Fund. Volunteer Florida is the state’s lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during and after disasters.

Bring a jacket; it’s getting chilly out! Florida tap invitational general admission tickets available at the door and online

“Our neighbors in the Florida panhandle were hit hard by Hurricane Michael,” a news release said. “We also will be collecting hurricane relief supplies for our neighbors in need at the festival Saturday.”

The Sixth Annual Invitational is presented by Proof Brewing Company and For the Table Hospitality, and sponsored by Visit Tallahassee. The two-day event is one of North Florida’s largest beer festivals. For more info, click here.

Capitol Directions

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.2.18

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

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

We did it once before, can we do it once again …

There haven’t been too many days in October when Florida Politics did not sponsor and publish a new survey with our colleagues at St. Pete Polls. SPP has become such a household name — at least in the households which live and die on political news — that its numbers are now part of the aggregators at FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics.

We’d like to do one more poll of the top of the ballot, especially since we ask those who have already cast a ballot who got their vote. But, as we’ve said before, polling is expensive.

So we’d like to see if there is any appetite for crowdfunding one final survey from St. Pete Polls. To do so, we need to raise $1,200 to run a poll this weekend.

Would you consider kicking in something to pay for that poll? If so, PayPal FP at can contribute whatever you like to this tip jar … $5, $10, $25, $100. If we get enough money together, we’ll do the poll; if not, we’ll refund your money.

If you do put something in the kitty, we’ll include your name (If you want) in the story about the poll. We’ll also — and perhaps more important — share with you the results of the survey Sunday evening or at least 12 hours ahead of when we publish the story.

Thanks in advance for being part of this.

One other housekeeping note: Before Tuesday: Let us know your plans for an Election Night Watch Party wherever you are in Florida. Send info to


@DavidJollyFL: Nearly every individual asking to cross the U.S. border has a better value system than @realDonaldTrump.

@joshrogin: In Miami, John Bolton will announce a new policy toward Latin America to confront the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, calling them the “Troika of Tyranny.”

@HAltman: Veteran homelessness in U.S. continues to decline according to a new national estimate announced today by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. HUD’ 2018 decreased 5.4 percent since last year, falling to nearly half of the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010.

@SContorno: I asked Rick Scott if he would have been able to contribute $64 million to his campaign if his net worth hadn’t increased by $83 million while governor. His response: “I’m just gonna say I’m committed to this campaign.”

@MearKat00: Most of my mail goes straight to the garbage this time of year.

@PatriciaMazzei: It wouldn’t be a reporting trip to an early voting site in Miami without a few fire-ant bites

— @ChristineSexton: Dealing with the bureaucracy that is @AHCA_FL reminds me of lyrics from a John Lennon song … “They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool. Till you’re so f—ing crazy you can’t follow their rules.”

@MaggieNYT: It’s amazing how many people simultaneously talk about Trump undermining institutions while demanding a constitutionally-protected institution abdicate 200 years of freedom of the press.

@JBenton: If you pick up a @Gannett local newspaper the morning after the midterms next week, you’ll find … no election results. The chain’s printing deadlines are super early — like 7 p.m. — and they’re no longer willing to push them back this one day a year.


County election chiefs reported another 315K completed ballots on Thursday, making for 3.73 million votes recorded so far ahead of the 2018 general election.

Democrats threw down a combo breaker, edging out the GOP in the daily tally for the first time in a while. Their 126K mail and early votes came in 2,755 ahead of the Republican effort for the day. Third- and no-party candidates tossed in another 65K ballots via post and polls.

Though the blue team won the day, Republicans still hold a 60K advantage in the overall vote tally. The quantity of their lead has been remained solid for days. Percentage-wise, however, the Republican advantage has started to shrivel.

On Monday, Republicans led the overall vote by 2 full percentage points. By Thursday, that lead stood at 1.62 points, about a third of the 4.77 percent they held at the same point leading up to the last midterm election.

But it’s independent voters, not Democrats, who are eating away at their share. Other voters have seen their stock go up by a half-point since the beginning of the week and are now at 18.2 percent of the whole — maybe UNF was right to set the independent vote at 19 percent in their most recent Guv poll.

About 41 percent of requested mail ballots have yet to be returned. Republicans are far in the lead in completion rate, with 64 percent of their stack completing the return trip thus far. Dems and other voters come in at 57 percent and 52 percent, respectively.


Former President Barack Obama (whose Secret Service code name was “Renegade”) will “campaign alongside Florida’s leading Democratic candidates” today in South Florida.

That includes U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum.

Bring in the big guns: Barack Obama is campaigning for Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum in the final days of the race.

The event is at Ice Palace Films, 59 NW 14th St., Miami.

Some background on that venue, courtesy of Miami New Times: “Booking Ice Palace costs more than renting a Hialeah banquet hall, but when you don’t want your vision compromised and you need space for a couple thousand people, it’s money well spent.”

The 95-year-old property has white fortresslike walls surrounded by a manicured garden ideal for lounging.

Given that unique vibe, it’s no shock the space served as everything from the home of Pulse Art Fair during the week of Art Basel Miami Beach to a makeshift nightclub for Deadmau5’s free show and events during Winter Music Conference.

Because the immense space is flexible enough to fit almost any kind of request, it’s also used frequently for film production and commercial photo shoots. In fact, it features 85,000 square feet of interior space … and 58,000 square feet of garden area.


Andrew Gillum promises state workers a pay raise” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum barnstormed the Panhandle and during a Tallahassee stopover pledged to “champion” state workers if elected governor. “They have been penalized during the arc of the current administration. As mayor of this city I know that and how important they are in running the third largest state in America,” said Gillum, for whom state workers include many of his neighbors. Gillum is in a tight race with DeSantis to occupy the Governor’s Mansion. When asked about state worker pay and benefits, a DeSantis spokesman replied the campaign was solely focused on Nov. 6.

Overflow from an Andrew Gillum campaign event in Fort Myers this week.

Gillum opens up about relationship with FBI agent” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Asked by Tallahassee Democrat News Director Jennifer Portman to elaborate on a comment he told a reporter a year ago that he unequivocally broke off all ties with Miller after an uncomfortable situation, Gillum revealed that he had asked the developer to support his campaign for governor. … They were sitting at a local restaurant and Miller said that he wanted to support Gillum statewide, but was interested in local government. … “But this encounter, in particular, I was making an ask in my run for governor, and he responded in a way that seemed transactional,” Gillum said. “I never followed up, he never followed up with me and that was the end of it.”

Sheriffs ‘trust Gillum,’ new ad says” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — His new ad, titled “Oath,” details endorsements from Sheriffs Russell H. Gibson of Osceola County, Walt McNeil of Leon County, Sadie Darnell of Alachua County and Jerry Demings of Orange County. All four, like Gillum, are Democrats. In the ad, the sheriffs take turns reading the same script, pumping up Gillum’s ability to combat crime. “I took an oath to protect the public,” the sheriffs say. “So will the next governor of Florida. As mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum brought the police and the community together to crack down on violent criminals and gangs, and he reduced violent crime by 24 percent.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

DeSantis goes one-on-one with Jim DeFede — The Republican gubernatorial candidate sat down with the Facing South Florida show on CBS Miami for an exclusive discussion about calling opponent Gillum a “socialist” and the nagging allegations of racism that has dogged his campaign. DeFede called it DeSantis’ “most extensive interview yet,” and was later joined by his running mate, Jeanette Nuñez.

To watch the interview, click on the image below:

In final push, DeSantis all about suburban vote” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times – While some strategists believe that a campaign’s last push should emphasize rallies in the state’s most populous cities, DeSantis has instead been visiting places like Coral Springs, Melbourne,  Tarpon Springs and Sun City Center — in addition to a few appearances in big urban areas like Jacksonville and Miami. … This scalpel strategy is based on internal polling and modeling by the campaign, which reveal areas where DeSantis could be vulnerable, and is working to boost turnout in those places. … In addition to energizing the base, DeSantis is also trying to capture more moderates by portraying himself as the law-and-order candidate and championing other popular issues like lower taxes and cleaner water.

Assignment editors — DeSantis hosts a breakfast with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, 8:30 a.m., Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey. Rubio will then join the DeSantis campaign at a lunch, 10:30 a.m. at the Hillsborough Victory Office, 3018 N. U.S. Highway 301, Tampa.

Assignment editors — Democratic Governors Association Chair Jay Inslee of Washington will campaign in Florida, 10:30 AM, Wynmoor Village Community Rally with Gillum, Wynmoor Village, 1310 Avenue of Stars, Coconut Creek. Also Saturday, 9 a.m., Canvass Kickoff at Gillum Miami Field Office; 2:30 p.m., Aventura canvass kickoff with environment community, 17871 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura.

Assignment editors — Republican Nuñez will join Dr. Ben Carson for a meet-and-greet, 4 p.m., 1555 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 500, West Palm Beach.


St. Pete Polls: Bill Nelson up 2 on Rick Scott” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new survey shows Nelson grabbing 49 percent and Scott 47 percent. The latest poll shows the same demographic trends that have appeared in surveys throughout the campaign, with Nelson doing better among independent voters, women, voters of color, and younger voters, while Scott’s support is based on white voters, men, and older voters. It also shows Nelson leading handily among voters who already have cast their ballots. Among those who’ve voted, Nelson leads 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the new St. Pete Poll on Florida’s U.S. Senate race. Scott’s campaign’s hope is based on those who say they still intend to vote; among those, he leads, 50 percent to 45 percent, according to the new survey. The poll shows an almost three-point swing in Nelson’s direction since the last St. Pete Polls survey of the race, which had Scott up by less than one point on Oct. 22.

Gov. Rick Scott joins Attorney General Pam Bondi for a Get Out the Vote Rally at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa.

Scott launches new Spanish TV ad focusing on family” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second “Familia” has Scott narrating the entire commercial in Spanish, as the video shows him with his grandchildren and at various points on the campaign trail, mostly meeting with Hispanic voters. “For me, family is everything,” Scott begins, in Spanish. “I know how hard families in Florida work. That’s why I work — so that you have the best opportunities, from good paying jobs to good schools. It’s not about one political party versus the other. It’s about making sure your family has what you need to succeed.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott homes in on Hispanic, independent voters with health care ad” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Since early voting began, he’s run at least 1,333 ads in Orlando and Tampa media markets — crucial for reaching Hispanic and independents voters — wherein he promises to protect patients with pre-existing health conditions. The political group supporting his opponent, Democratic incumbent Nelson, has run at least 541 TV hits in those same media markets, trying to convince voters of the opposite. In total, Scott has aired at least 2,029 television ads trying to convince voters that he’s going to protect them from losing their health insurance for illnesses they already have. By contrast, Senate Majority PAC, the political committee backing Nelson, has run even more ads — at least 2,707 — trying to convince voters that Scott won’t protect them.

Scott spoofed in new video from Kissimmee Puerto Rican group” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “Rick Scott” with “I Love Trump” painted on his head cavorts with Trump and Putin as dancers sing a catchy chorus in a new Spanish language parody ad made by a Puerto Rican grassroots group. The Kissimmee-based Alianza for Progress’s spoof video, “Buche Y Pluma Na’ Má’”, directed by Latin Grammy-winning Alejandro Santiago Ciena, criticizes Scott as “unreliable and untrustworthy” and seeks to tie him to President Trump. “Rick Scott said that he would have not done anything different from what President Trump did with Puerto Rico and this is part of what is wrong with our politicians,” Santiago Ciena said in a statement. “We cannot elect someone who believes that this President’s administration is doing right by our community when all evidence points otherwise.”

To view the video, click on the image below:


Everytown for Gun Safety spends $450K on last-minute mail campaign” via Florida Politics — A gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has poured $455,000 into direct mail buys according to a newly filed campaign finance report. The national branch of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund funneled $465,000 to its state-level PAC Tuesday. On the same day, the Florida fund plunked nearly all of that money down on a quartet of direct mail buys through The Pivot Group, a Washington-based political strategy firm … Before paying for a new slate of mailers, the state-level committee had spent $2.6 million since it set up shop in mid-September. … In addition to playing in the Florida elections with a state-level PAC, the national committee has spent another $600,000 boosting candidates on both sides of the aisle … Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, has received $500,000 of that money via his Innovate Florida PAC, while the remainder was split between the committees of Democratic Ag. Commissioner nominee Nikki Fried and Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw.

Sean Shaw’s anti-special interest ad features some curious casting” via Florida Politics — Normally, the extras flanking politicians in TV ads are about as memorable as the stock photo models on direct mailers. They flitter across your eyeballs for a second, before getting tossed into the orange bin in the garage. … Sometimes they’re dressed up as tradesmen or construction workers … in Shaw’s ad, they’re Floridians with pre-existing conditions … The ad is by the book … except for one detail … for a couple seconds one extra who certainly didn’t get the job through central casting becomes clearly visible: John Fox. … Fox is a member of the Florida Justice Association, one of largest special interest groups in the Sunshine State … There’s nothing wrong with giving a friend an opportunity to be on a statewide ad, but it’s a little disingenuous for Shaw to say he’s running to be Florida’s top cop so he can “disarm” certain special interests when he’s apparently pretty chummy with other ones.

Terry McAuliffe endorses Nikki Fried — The former Virginia Governor is endorsing Fried in her campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. McAuliffe’s endorsement adds to the growing focus on the Ag. Commissioner race with the issues of gun safety, water quality, and medical marijuana. McAuliffe said: “From conserving Florida’s water, to ensuring complete background checks on guns — Nikki Fried is running to make a difference. She’s part of the next generation of leaders who are stepping up throughout our nation, dissatisfied with the status quo and working to change it. Nikki is a leader who is driven to affect change and doesn’t get caught up in the politics, she focuses on the issues.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe calls Nikki Fried “part of the next generation of leaders who are stepping up throughout our nation.”

Seminole Tribe puts another $1M behind Amendment 3 push” via Florida Politics — Voters in Charge, the committee sponsoring Amendment 3, has been heavily backed by the tribe as well as Disney Worldwide Services. With the new check, the Seminole Tribe has anted up $24.35 million for the Amendment 3 push since December 2017. Disney has put $19.65 million into the campaign since handing over its first contribution in April 2017. Combined, the Seminoles and Disney have put exactly $44 million into the committee, which represents all but $314,000 of the money it has raised since it started accepting contributions in late 2015. Voters in Charge had $13 million left to spend heading into November.

Amendment 5 getting closer to passage, according to St. Pete Polls” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey on Amendment 5, which would require a supermajority in the Legislature to increase taxes, has a path to passage. The survey shows 47 percent in favor, with 34 percent against and 18 percent undecided. If the undecideds break in the same proportion as those who have an opinion, that would leave “yes” at around 58 percent support. That’s just short of the 60 percent required for passage. Or the undecideds could lean more toward “yes” or “no” than those who have made up their minds, pushing it over the 60-percent threshold or leaving it far short. But with 18 percent still unsure, the amendment at least has a chance of getting through.

Southern Christian leaders, ministers endorse Amendment 6 — Representatives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the international civil rights and human rights organization, converged on Tallahassee to endorse Amendment 6 — the crime victims’ rights amendment known as Marcy’s Law for Florida. Dr. Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, joined area ministers to speak out on behalf of Amendment 6: Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; Lee Johnson, Pastor of Loved by Jesus Family Church; and Darrick McGhee Sr., Pastor of Bible Based Church. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believes rights for crime victims are essential human rights. Protecting and strengthening crime victims’ rights falls in line with the organization’s mission of pursuing equality and justice. It has supported similar crime victims’ rights measures in other states.

Education contributes to a winning combination in Amendment 7” via Florida Politics — Amendment 7 would protect the Florida College System, provide benefits for families of military and first responders, and maintain college affordability for students. As the only public educational entity not currently in the Florida Constitution, a “yes” vote will affirm the community and state colleges’ role as providing open access, quality education in your community, and the seamless connection between K12 and the state university system. Specifically, Amendment 7’s emphasis on preserving local authority is key to the success of the colleges. Boards of trustees ensure that colleges can remain responsive to the academic and workforce needs of their communities.

Jeff Greene pitches in $225K to help Democrats” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A spokeswoman for Greene announced that this week he contributed $100,000 to a committee supporting Gillum‘s gubernatorial campaign, $100,000 to a Democratic U.S. Senate get-out-the-vote effort in support of Sen. Nelson‘s re-election campaign, and $25,000 to a committee supporting Fried‘s bid to be elected Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

Tweet, tweet:


Keep an eye on CD 25 – MCI Maps/Matt Isbell confirmed’s analysis of the CD 25 race: this is one to watch. MCI updated its Florida congressional rankings yesterday, moving CD 25 from “likely R” to “toss-up”. Isbell points to the fact that incumbent Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s “hasn’t had a real fight in years” and is running a “weak campaign” against former judge Barzee Flores, who has “raised well over $1.8 million and has been criss-crossing the district.” Meanwhile, the Diaz-Balart camp’s “foolish strategy” of sitting on a half-million in spendable campaign dollars is looking more so as national gun control PAC, Giffords’ Courage dumped $200,000 into the Miami market this week. Said Isbell, “While I think Balart has a narrow edge due to the partisan lean of the district, I don’t feel comfortable even keeping it at Lean R.  Tossup is my new ranking.”

Democrats defend Lauren Book after she takes heat from her own party” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that some Senate Democrats in key races and party consultants were annoyed … Book was sitting on a political committee with more than $1.5 million in the bank but had only given $50,000 to key races as Democrats push to flip the Florida Senate. … In response, Democratic consultant Steve Vancore, who works with Book, sent statements … from Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo and outgoing state Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon defending Book. … Braynon’s statement blasted the “anonymous consultants” quoted in the previous POLITICO story and said they should be “worried about winning races.”

Tom Wright lets GOP attacks against Mel Martin do all his talking” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – (T)he race has taken a turn for the surreal when — amid a barrage of attack direct-mail advertisements — one made the claim that in the annals of worst government spending, an experiment involving cougars and exercise equipment has now been topped by a couple of ideas supported by the Democrat in the race. … It’s unclear where Wright, Martin’s opponent, stands on term limits, good-government rules and the minimum wage, as he’s refused to do a substantive interview in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election.

Mike Caruso facing questions after pair of disputed endorsements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican candidate Caruso of House District 89 is facing questions over a pair of endorsements to his campaign attributed to former Ocean Ridge Mayor Geoff Pugh and former Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein. Both Pugh and Glickstein say they made no such endorsement. However, the Caruso campaign did provide a copy of an email from April showing Glickstein giving Caruso his endorsement. Glickstein says that only applied to the primary campaign. The claim of an endorsement by Pugh appears to be the result of an error, and the Caruso campaign has admitted as much.

Mike Caruso faces scrutiny over questionable endorsements.

Pensacola mayor’s race likely most expensive in history, attracts state political action committee” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal – The two candidates running for Pensacola mayor have raised nearly $425,000 collectively. That number is more than double the $195,760 raised during the first “strong mayor” race in 2010 between the five candidates who filed to run at that time. Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer has out-raised Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson by more than $90,000, for a campaign chest of $258,164. … But the candidates’ campaign money is not the only money in the race. A statewide political action committee has gotten involved in the race and is sending out flyers attacking Robinson for taking a salary during his 12 years on the commission.

These Florida restaurants are next-door neighbors, but they’re worlds apart politically” via Anne Geggis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Cook and The Cork and Wings Plus are restaurants that sit side by side at opposite ends of the world, in a strip mall at Sample Road and Northwest 99th Way in Coral Springs, Florida. Their strained relationship serves as a microcosm of a divided America as the country barrels toward one of the nastiest elections in history. Wings Plus is a must for many state and national notables such as Eric Trump, Herman Cain and Gov. Scott. The 300-seat restaurant hosted a rally for DeSantis on Oct. 28. That’s when the animosity between the restaurateurs came to a head. Dena Blauschild and her husband, Keith, The Cook and The Cork chef and sommelier, learned that a grandstand was set up in front of their 50-seat restaurant for the rally. DeSantis actually was photographed under the Pride flag. “A lot of people thought we were involved in organizing the rally,” Keith Blauschild said. The Blauschilds called police and threatened to tow cars. But Brian Walsh, who has run the wings restaurant for 30 years here, said the flare-up was just a misunderstanding.


Former Speakers lead efforts for Panhandle recovery” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The new Rebuild 850 initiative, named after the region’s telephone area code, is intended to encourage investment from businesses and others while boosting volunteer participation. Backers hope it will help keep people from forgetting the beachfront and rural communities devastated by the Category 4 hurricane, which so far has caused at least $4.5 billion in damage and an estimated 35 deaths in Florida. Former House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican, and his father-in-law, former Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City, said they expect the federal government and state leaders will work to address the region’s needs, just as lawmakers did for other parts of Florida after Hurricane Irma last year.

Former Florida House Speakers Will Weatherford and Allan Bense challenge other entities and people to “donate, volunteer, visit and invest” in the affected region.

Ex-state employee says politics drove ouster” via the News Service of Florida — A former state employee contends in a federal lawsuit she was forced to resign because she wouldn’t contribute to the election campaign of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy PatronisChristine Taul alleges in the lawsuit that she was “constructively” discharged by Patronis from her position as risk-management program administrator in the Department of Financial Services for “associating with a political party different from that which defendant Patronis is a member and not associating with defendant Patronis.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee. A spokeswoman for Patronis, a Republican, dismissed the lawsuit as “completely false.”

Supreme Court rules car can be ‘weapon’” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Justices, in a 6-1 decision, rejected an appeal by Adam Shepard, who was convicted on a charge of manslaughter with a weapon after fatally striking Spencer Schott with a car in January 2011 following the altercation. Under state law, the use of a weapon bumped up the manslaughter charge from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, carrying a longer sentence. The issue in the appeal centered on whether a car could be considered a weapon under a state reclassification law that allows such increased sentences. In ruling against Shepard, the Supreme Court made the somewhat-unusual move of backing away from a 1995 decision, which said a weapon must be “commonly understood to be an instrument for combat.” Justice Jorge Labarga, in the majority opinion, wrote that the law allowing sentences to be increased does not define “weapon” and that the 1995 decision too narrowly defined the term.

Several districts dropped from Florida Best and Brightest lawsuit” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Forty-three Florida school districts and a handful of specialty schools no longer are party to the Florida Education Association’s legal challenge of the 2015 “Best and Brightest” bonus program. Over the past three days, lawyers for the sides agreed to dismiss the systems from the case, which contends that the legislative allocation discriminates against teachers who are older or who are minorities. The districts removed from the suit are the state’s smaller ones, including Pasco and Hernando in the Tampa Bay area. The state’s largest school districts, including Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, remain defendants.

Harris Corp. launches appeal on radio contract” via the News Service of Florida — The Melbourne-based company filed a notice of appeal of a decision by the Florida Department of Management Services to award the contract to a Harris competitor, Motorola Solutions, Inc., according to a docket on the 1st District Court of Appeal website. The department last month adopted a recommended order issued by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper and dismissed a protest filed by Harris Corp. The department in March announced it planned to award the contract, which is expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to Motorola.

Florida tees up another $3 million for red tide relief in Pinellas County” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — … bringing the total so far to $6.3 million for Pinellas. The funding comes from the Florida Department of Environment Protection’s red tide emergency fund. Scott is infusing another $3 million into that fund to make sure other Florida counties can access relief as the need arises. “As our coastal communities continue to combat red tide, we are taking action to ensure they have the resources they need. In total, we have provided more than $20 million to respond to this year’s red tide, including funding for cleanup efforts, additional scientific testing and marketing through VISIT FLORIDA,” Scott said … funds include the $6.3 million for Pinellas County as well as $1.5 million for Sarasota County. Manatee County received $750,000.

Worst story you’ll read today — “Florida man kills wife, himself just before they planned to take kids trick-or-treating, cops say” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald — An argument that broke out between a Lakeland couple just before they were to take their children trick-or-treating on Halloween ended in violence, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Antero Araujo Quintana, 40, shot his wife, 42-year-old Beatriz Araujo then himself during an argument in the home. Witnesses told investigators the Araujo and Quintana “had been arguing for several days” and were getting ready to take the children trick-or-treating when the argument broke out. The couple’s 21-year-old son witnessed the shooting, according to a preliminary investigation by deputies. Their other two children, investigators said, were waiting in the family’s truck at the time and did not see the incident.


Harold Hempstead is writing a book. 

The imprisoned whistleblower four years ago told the Miami Herald that fellow prisoner Darren Rainey was tortured by a scalding hot shower that ultimately killed him. 

Now, reports the Herald, after a transfer to a Tennessee facility Hempstead is working on publishing a 400-page tell-all about Florida’s prison system. 

Harold Hempstead is the key witness to the torture and murder of Darren Rainey. And he is writing a book.

Gangs: A preview manuscript offered to Herald reporter Sanya Mansoor tells of “a system overrun with gang members, where inmates are routinely sliced from mouth to ear with makeshift blades.” 

‘Protective management’: That’s the phrase coined for the are where “inmates with special security needs” are held. Hempstead writes that it’s where “staffers feel emboldened to impose harsh retribution away from the prying eyes of the general population and upper-level staff,” according to Mansoor. 

Timely: “If he could convince only one person to read his book, he wishes it could be the next governor of Florida, who could actually provide leadership and impose reforms,” Mansoor writes. 


Trump revives ‘Willie Horton’ tactic with ad linking illegal immigrant killer to Democrats” via Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post — Pinned at the top of Trump’s Twitter feed was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mustache and long chin hair. Smiling, he announces, “I killed f‐‐‐— cops.” “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” reads text on the 53-second video, which is filled with audible expletives. “Democrats let him into our country … Democrats let him stay.” The text is superimposed over videos of Bracamontes appearing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declaring, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.” Trump and Republicans were criticized for “fearmongering,” and the ad has been decried as “racist,” with many likening it to the infamous “Willie Horton” ads supporting George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. Only the video Trump shared, critics say, is “far worse.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Emails: Roger Stone shills to Trump campaign as WikiLeaks conduit” via Michael Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times — Emails provide new insight into efforts by Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump and political operative, to seek funding through the campaign for his projects aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton. Stone had long claimed both publicly and privately that he had foreknowledge of the information that WikiLeaks planned to release about Mrs. Clinton and her political allies. In early October, Stone predicted on his Twitter account that the documents that Julian Assange promised to make public would hurt Clinton’s campaign.

Kathy Castor says Democrats will propose allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices if they take back the House” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Hillsborough County-area Democratic U.S. Rep. Castor said Trump’s recently announced proposal to reduce pharmaceutical drug prices by linking the price Medicare pays to an international pricing index is a worthy idea, but she has absolutely no faith he’ll follow through on it. “Just like he pronounced early on that ‘I’m going to take on the drug companies,’ and then in a flourish it was ‘problem solved,’” she said. That was a reference to Trump’s statement in May that he planned to lower prescription drug prices, mostly through regulatory authority. He dubbed it “the most sweeping action in history” to reduce the cost of drugs for consumers. There was no follow through, however, leaving Democrats skeptical that Trump is serious about a proposal he campaigned on in the 2016 presidential election.


NRA working to hold its grip on Agriculture Commissioner” via Joe Henderson for the Tampa Bay Times — The race between Matt Caldwell and Nikki Fried to be the next agriculture commissioner is as much about guns, maybe more so, than strawberries or citrus greening. This state does tend to pass permits out like so many Gasparilla beads, but there are reasons even in Florida to just say no with someone wants a license to conceal and carry. Fried made this an issue and promises, if elected, to implement new safeguards in the permitting process. Sounds like common sense to me, but here’s where the hysteria comes into play. Marion Hammer, the NRA lobbyist whose influence among politicians and Second Amendment supporters is considerable, decided to stoke the fires of opposition. She flatly declared in a statement to NRA members, “Fried opposes your Second Amendment right to self-defense. If Fried gets elected, she will do everything she can to eliminate our gun rights. That is the plain truth.” That is plain balderdash.

Don’t get swindled by Amendment 1” via Karson Turner of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amendment 1 is about as authentic as that Nigerian prince in your inbox — promising to “richly reward” you as his “discreet partner” with an overseas bank account. Tallahassee politicians are selling Amendment 1 as a tax cut. They’re betting voters fall for the false promise of easy money. The politicians aren’t after easy money in return, but rather “easy votes.” During the next election cycle, they’ll happily campaign on a tax cut that never happened — because Amendment 1 isn’t a tax cut, it’s a tax shift. Amendment 1 benefits a chosen few by targeting tax breaks to properties that include a value between $100,000 and $125,000. That’s less than a quarter of Florida properties. For those of us with more expensive or more modest homes, we face a larger tax burden and are at risk of property tax hikes.

FAPA: Yes on Amendment 2 will avert tax crisis” via Florida Politics — The Florida Association of Property Appraisers (FAPA) recommends Floridians vote YES on Amendment 2. The amendment asks voters whether to make permanent a 10 percent limit on the annual increase in assessed value of a non-homestead property. A “yes” vote will avert a sudden and largely unexpected tax crisis for more than 5 million residential and business property owners throughout Florida. Most homeowners in Florida enjoy the tax savings afforded by two $25,000 homestead exemptions. Business owners, rental property owners, second homeowners and part-time retirees, whose permanent residence may be in another state, are not eligible for those exemptions. For them, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 that placed a 10 percent limit on the annual increase in assessed value of a non-homestead property, commonly referred to as the 10 percent cap.

Mike Prendergast: Duty, honor and country” via Florida Politics — Voters across the state of Florida will have an epic opportunity to ensure that they protect our veterans and thank them for their service in a way that has never been done before in our state’s history. A “yes” vote on Amendment 10 will ensure that the needs of our military members are always supported and that the priceless service of our veterans is never forgotten. Florida is home to the nation’s third largest population of veterans, with more than one-half of our veterans having served in combat. I write today to stress the importance of Amendment 10, the “Protection Amendment.” Passage of Amendment 10 will ensure that our state’s Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) will be a permanent part of our state government’s structure. This agency (FDVA) is the essential conduit for every veteran in Florida to get access to their earned services and benefits.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: GA Foods

Larry Cretul, GrayRobinson: Hillsborough County Aviation Authority

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Aquatic Control Group

David Harvey, David F. Harvey & Associates: Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office

Ryan Kimmey: Florida Osteopathic Medical Association

Mark Vincent: New York Life Insurance Company


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: Gubernatorial candidates Gillum and DeSantis, Nancy Ancrum, Miami Herald editorial page editor and Rosemary O’Hara, Sun-Sentinel editorial page editor.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Bay News 9 and AM Radio 820 News host Chris Ingram; Florida state director of “For Our Future” Ashley Walker; Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano; and Paula Dockery, columnist and former state Senator.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s show will examine the state of autonomous vehicles in Florida and safeguards being enacted to protect drivers and pedestrians. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sens. Jeff Brandes and Dennis Baxley, on the Transportation Committee; state Rep. Wengay Newton, on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee; Dr. Rahul Razdan, Florida Polytechnic University professor; Michael Jernigan, Florida Polytechnic University student; Beth Alden, executive director, Hillsborough County MetroPlan; and Eric Hill, director of Transportation System Management, MetroPlan Orlando.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A preview of the midterm elections, and the latest updates on the campaigns. Supervisors of Elections Brian Corley (Pasco County) and Craig Latimer (Hillsborough County) will join host Al Ruechel to discuss important voting information.

Politics on Your Side with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Florida’s 12th Congressional District candidates Chris Hunter (Democrat) and Angelika Purkis (NPA).

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mulaney and Chris Hand, former Chief of Staff for the City of Jacksonville (2011 to 2015).

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the midterm elections, the Pittsburgh synagogue rampage in the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the United States.

— ALOE —

Welcome to the world:

What Adam Babington is reading —Disney World wraps up Halloween, shifts into Christmas gear” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — In the blink of a night, Magic Kingdom theme park has gone from Halloween to Christmas. When the park opened, the motif was garland and red bows, thanks to a shift of swift overnight workers. I counted more than 100 wreaths up and down Main Street and around the hub at the base of Cinderella Castle. Some are Mickey-shaped, some have bells, some feature citrus. And that’s not counting the hanging baskets and poinsettia towers on display. There are a few holiday trees — up on the train station, near the Snow White meet-and-greet — but the giant ones are not yet in place. Disney’s décor tends to come out in phases through the parks and hotels, and Magic Kingdom has been a traditional starting point.

Starbucks aims to create reusable-cup habit with holiday push” via Benjamin Romano of The Seattle Times — The company plans to offer a 50-cent discount on drinks served in seasonal reusable cups after 2 p.m. during the next two months. The increased incentive, running through early January, is part of an ongoing effort to drive business to Starbucks stores in the afternoons and a broader sustainability initiative aimed at reducing waste from disposable cups. “We’re really trying to create a habit here,” said Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer. “When we know that people are most likely paying attention to our cups, we want to make sure we get this out in front of them.”

Universal Orlando lays out plans for future I-Drive expansion” via Richard Bilbao of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Documents filed with Orange County dubbed “Universal Boulevard PD/DP3 Infrastructure DP,” show eventual roadway systems and infrastructure that appear to be part of the theme park giant’s future plans for more than 500 vacant acres. Universal is seeking county approval “to construct infrastructure only on a total of 541.50 acres,” the documents showed. Images show a complex roadway system that includes multiple interchanges and roundabouts, which would provide guest access to multiple destinations. The bulk of the roadway system appears to be on the southwestern side of the property, closer to Universal Boulevard and near the Orange County Convention Center’s North/South Concourse. The plans also show an unidentified bulk area that may be either a large surface lot for potential theme park back-of-house operations or parking.

’Stranger Things’ staying open for extra day at Universal” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The popular HHN house themed after the Netflix series “Stranger Things” will be open for day guests at Universal Studios Florida Tuesday, Nov. 6 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. This will be the first time Universal has opened an HHN house during regular park hours. It’s being done in celebration of “Stranger Things Day,” marking the date in the show where, in its fictional version of 1983, Will Byers disappeared into the Upside Down. “Guests will walk in the footsteps of Will as they encounter iconic scenes, characters and environments from the first season of the series — including the menacing Hawkins National Laboratory, the Byers home adorned with an erratic display of flashing Christmas lights and the predatory Demogorgon … which will stalk their every move,” Universal said in a news release.

Stranger Things is going to stay just a little longer at Universal.

What Stephanie Smith is reading — “Uber drivers can study at ASU online for free under program” via The Associated Press — Arizona State University and Uber announced a new partnership that will allow some of the ride-sharing app’s drivers to pursue a degree online. Under the pilot program, eligible drivers can take ASU classes online with the cost of tuition fully covered. The money will come from Uber, ASU and financial aid programs. The program will launch in eight places including Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa and New Jersey. Both ASU and Uber say students will also get support and “success coaching.” Drivers who have done at least 3,000 rides and have “platinum” or higher status are eligible.

Happy birthday this weekend to a trio of solid Florida politicos Taylor Budowich, Clay Barker, and Ken Granger.

Education contributes to a winning combination in Amendment 7

Amendment 7 would protect the Florida College System, provide benefits for families of military and first responders, and maintain college affordability for students.

As the only public educational entity not currently in the Florida Constitution, a “yes” vote will affirm the community and state colleges’ role as providing open access, quality education in your community, and the seamless connection between K12 and the state university system.

Specifically, Amendment 7’s emphasis on preserving local authority is key to the success of the colleges. Boards of trustees ensure that colleges can remain responsive to the academic and workforce needs of their communities.

Placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, Amendment 7 also requires “mandatory payment of education and compensation benefits to qualifying survivors of certain first responders and military members who die (while) performing official duties,” the ballot summary says.

Further, Amendment 7 “requires supermajority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose fees.” This amendment, like several others, that voters will consider in just a few days, combines matters that share a common thread – in this case, higher education.

Florida TaxWatch, the state’s nonpartisan spending watchdog, has recommended a ‘yes’ vote on Amendment 7 in its 2018 Voter’s Guide.

The ballot measure, TaxWatch explains, “codifies in the constitution that there is to be a single college system comprised of all public community and state colleges.”

“There are currently provisions in the constitution that codify the state Pre-K through 12 system and how it is governed, and the state university system and how it is governed, so including similar provisions to make clear the role of Florida’s community and state colleges in Florida’s system of public education makes a great deal of sense,” it says.

“The Florida College System is nationally recognized as the #1 college system in the nation and was created to ensure that all Florida residents would have access to higher education,” says Nicole Washington. “This Amendment would enshrine Florida’s colleges into our state constitution, ensuring continued student success and affordability.”

According to a recent Florida Bar Journal article by amendment sponsors Emery Gainey and Nicole Washington, the proposal, if approved, “will make (the Florida Constitution’s Article IX) an all-encompassing section outlining the purposes and governing structures of Florida’s public education systems, including pre-K-12 schools, state colleges, and state universities.”

Moreover, “the Florida College System provides an affordable pathway to high-quality higher education for the underrepresented student populations that Florida will need to educate and train to be globally competitive — those who tend to be slightly older, working, and racially and socio-economically diverse,” Gainey and Washington wrote.

Ava Parker, the president of Palm Beach State College and chair of the Council of Presidents, says,“Amendment 7 has the opportunity to reinforce the role of the 28 public colleges that serve nearly 800,000 students.

“To protect this primary workforce engine of our state, the most important thing to do this election season is make your voice heard by voting. Vote ‘yes’ to protect our Florida colleges. Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 7.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons