Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 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.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Is Bird the word?

They’re inexpensive, quick and ideal for short-distance trips — and they could be coming to a Florida city near you.

Dockless scooters are the latest disruptions to the continually evolving transportation industry. But the two-wheeled rides — provided by companies like Bird and Lime — aren’t yet ready for a prime-time fight in the Legislature.

Currently, local communities are assessing whether scooters are a meaningful mode of transportation. And it’s likely to stay that way for the time being, according to state Sen. Jeff Brandes.

A series of Lime scooters lined up in Pinellas County.

“It’s way too early for the Legislature to get engaged in the discussion, other than to make sure that we allow them to exist in markets that want them,” Brandes told us.

What makes an area ripe for scooters? “Anywhere where you have density and a large number of small trips, you could see this working,” the St. Petersburg Republican said. But “for some communities, they won’t work.”

“In Pinellas, whether it be along the beaches or in the downtown areas of the larger cities, there’s a great opportunity for this micro mobility to take place.”

When implemented correctly, scooters are almost immediately available to patrons upon request, Brandes said.

Earlier this year, Miami, welcomed the scooters into highly trafficked areas. But city commissioners pushed the companies out, citing the need to create an ordinance governing the new tools. On record, however, commissioners seemed supportive of the idea.

“You’re starting to see more cities recognize that micro mobility is a meaningful option,” Brandes told us.

That recognition is also occurring in the private sector. Other disruptive transportation services — like Uber and Lyft — already have launched scooter lines in some parts of the country.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Danny McAuliffeDrew WilsonJim Rosica and Peter Schorsch.

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

Take 5

Lake O reservoir gets Trump approval — President Donald Trump this week backed construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that is expected to help offset harmful toxic algae blooms. By signing America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, Trump authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin working on the reservoir. Congress will have to allocate $200 million a year to fund the $1.6 billion project, according to The News Service of Florida. Senate President Joe Negron said the finished reservoir would reduce discharges by 63 percent and send more than 120 billion gallons of clean water south to the Everglades each year. “Florida and our federal partners should immediately begin planning and designing the Reservoir, as well as obtaining the necessary permits,” added Negron. “We should set a goal to complete construction of the Reservoir in three to five years.”

Arguments set for Senate discrimination case — Arguments for the state Senate’s request to end an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation into a top aide’s sexual harassment and retaliation claims will be heard by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle Nov. 8. The Senate is seeking to halt the EEOC investigation. Earlier this month, lawyers for the Senate wrote “the ongoing EEOC action violates the Florida Senate’s sovereign and constitutional rights,” including “violat(ing) the Senate’s sovereign immunity.” Rachel Perrin Rogers, a chief assistant to Senate Republican Leader and future Senate President Wilton Simpson, filed the complaint with the EEOC alleging in part that she faced retaliation for sexual harassment claims.

Gun pre-emption suit won’t be dismissed — Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson this week refused the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging part of the state’s 2011 gun pre-emption law. The lawsuit, joined by more than 30 local governments, was filed after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February. The plaintiffs in the suit argue that the penalties imposed by the state for violating the pre-emption statute “are unconstitutional on a series of grounds and have had a ‘chilling effect’ on local officials considering gun restrictions,” according to the News Service of Florida.

Education panel retains Commissioner Stewart — The State Board of Education this week voted unanimously to keep Education Commissioner Pam Stewart in her position for an additional year. Stewart accepted the retention, promising to “continue advocating for the best interests of our students.” The education panel’s chair, Marva Johnson, credited Stewart’s leadership for helping schools reach “unprecedented levels of achievement.” “I am grateful for her willingness to continue serving the people of Florida in this role, and I look forward to continuing to work with education leaders throughout the state in promoting students’ ongoing success,” added Johnson. The panel, made of gubernatorial appointees, has the power appoint the Education Commissioner. Stewart has served as Commissioner since 2013.

Department of Education wants school safety funding boost — Florida Department of Education put out its legislative budget request for the 2019-20 fiscal year and making its funding wishlist are a slate of budget increases that would amount to a $200 increase in per-pupil funding. Most of the requested raise would help pay for new requirements in the school safety package lawmakers passed earlier this year in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland. Among the boosts it’s seeking from the Legislature: $100 million for school safety, $67.5 million to provide training to armed school personnel, and $10 million for mental health programs. If granted, the budget increase would increase per-pupil funding from $7,407 per student in the current budget year to $7,607 in 2019-20.

Scott: Utilities shoot for restoration by early November

Electric providers in the Panhandle and Big Bend regions have set a goal to have nearly all power restored by early November, Gov. Rick Scott announced this week.

Widespread power outages occurred after Hurricane Michael swept through the region Oct. 10.

Rick Scott and Donald Trump tour areas of the Panhandle devastated by hurricane Michael. (Image via AP)

The goal applies to even the hardest-hit areas — like Mexico Beach, where Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm. There, electrical infrastructure requires a complete rebuild.

“Florida is strong and while we have made incredible progress in the past 13 days, there is much to do,” Scott said in a statement. “We will never stop working until everyone is back on their feet following Michael.”

When the utility providers announced the goal, less than 50,000 accounts remained without power. An estimated 20,000 line workers and utility professionals are working in the affected region.

Patronis urges cooperation between banks, Michael victims

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is encouraging banks and credit unions to “do everything they can to support victims of Hurricane Michael.”

“It is absolutely essential that financial institutions support those impacted by Hurricane Michael by waiving fees and penalties to aid the victims,” Patronis said in a public statement this week. “Many financial institutions have already announced they are taking these steps to help families in the Panhandle and I encourage all banks and credit unions to follow suit and help these communities recover.”

Jimmy Patronis joins Rick Scott and VP Mike Pence to visit Panhandle residents impacted by hurricane Michael. (Image via Facebook)

Among some of Patronis’ suggested considerations: Waving late fees, lending fees and ATM fees in affected areas. As well, Patronis implored financial institutions to offer any provision that can “aid in speedy recovery.”

On Thursday, Patronis joined Gov. Scott and Vice President Mike Pence to tour the damage in Panama City.

Putnam opens camps for vets

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam this week participated in the grand opening of the American Warrior Pride Lodge, the third Operation Outdoor Freedom camp solely dedicated to hosting wounded veterans.

Operation Outdoor Freedom is a Florida camp catering exclusively to wounded veterans.

It’s located in the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday.

Since Commissioner Putnam and the Florida Forest Service officially launched Operation Outdoor Freedom, the first and only program of its kind in the nation, more than 3,800 wounded veterans have participated in over 500 outdoor, recreational and rehabilitative events throughout the state.

Free school meals available to students in Gulf, Washington counties

Putnam announced that students in Gulf and Washington counties are eligible for free school meals through Nov. 30.

“Our neighbors and fellow Floridians all across the Panhandle are in need after Hurricane Michael, and we’re going to provide all the help and support we can,” Putnam said. “To any families who were knocked down and are trying to get back up on your feet: you will not have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your child’s school meals.”

Students in Gulf and Washington counties will be eligible for free school lunches, according to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The federal government’s National School Lunch Program will provide the meals. In total, 13 schools and 4,333 students will be covered.

All students in Calhoun, Franklin, Jackson and Liberty counties already have access to free school meals, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida participates in drug take-back day

Attorney General Pam Bondi is encouraging Floridians to take part in the 16th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, officials at designated locations will collect unwanted prescription medications.

Though the federal Drug Enforcement Agency hosts the take-back days, the concept is supported by Bondi, a state official.

Attorney General Pam Bondi is encouraging the safe disposal of prescription medication.

“Sadly, users will often rummage through the medicine cabinets of family members or friends in search of opioid pills,” Bondi said in a statement this week. “Drug take-back days encourage citizens to get rid of these addictive medications, and potentially save a life in the process.”

The last take-back day in April saw Floridians dispose of more than 30,000 pounds of medication.

Instagram of the Week

The week in appointments

North Broward Hospital District Board of Commissioners

Gov. Scott appointed Stacy Angier for a term ending May 7, 2022. Angier 65, of Margate, is the principal of Abundant Life Christian Academy.

Family Care Councils

Scott reappointed seven and appointed seven members.

In Area 7, Daniel Bayley, 45, of Palm Bay, is reappointed for a term ending June 29, 2020.

In Area 8, Casey O’Halloran, 37, of Fort Myers is appointed for a term ending Aug. 14, 2019.

Amy Johnson, 45, of Cape Coral, is reappointed for a term ending April 9, 2020. Patricia Oglesby, 57, of Fort Myers, is reappointed for a term ending Aug. 24, 2020.

In Area 9, Elaine Scola, 67, of Lake Worth, is reappointed for a term ending March 19, 2021.

In Area 10, Gilda Pacheco, 70, of Miramar, is reappointed for a term ending June 29, 2020.

In Area 11, Susan Danglade-Ali, 60, of Doral, is appointed for a term ending Aug. 8, 2019.

Wilma Steiner, 68, of Miami, is appointed for a term ending July 1, 2019. Mireya Camino, 65, of Doral, is appointed for a term ending March 13, 2019.

In Area 12, Rosemary Revoir, 75, of Palm Coast, is appointed for a term ending Jan. 23, 2020. Charlene Greene, 56, of Ormond Beach, is appointed for a term ending Jan. 24, 2020.

In Area 13, Paula Whetro, 55, of Mascotte, is appointed for a term ending Sept. 30, 2019.

In Area 15, Krystal Sims, 32, of Port St. Lucie, is appointed for a term ending June 10, 2020. Mozelle Green, 37, of Fort Pierce, is reappointed for a term ending June 5, 2019.

Detzner reminds of early voting

Early voting for the Nov. 6 midterm election begins statewide Saturday.

Floridians should take note of the early voting period, which is required to last through Nov. 3, according to Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner urges Floridians to take advantage of early voting periods, which are now underway.

“Early voting offers registered Florida voters another convenient way to cast their ballot and reduces the potential for waiting in line on Election Day,” said Detzner.

Also highlighted by Detzner is the optional early-vote extension in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties, prompted by Hurricane Michael.

Early vote times and locations can be viewed online here. Some locations opened for early voting this week. As of Friday morning, nearly 560,00 voters had already cast their ballot an early voting location.

Michael recovery fund established

The CareerSource Florida Board of Directors said it is allocating an additional $1 million to help coordinate and continue the work of the initial state responses.

That includes Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps), Disaster Dislocated Worker grants and services offered by other community partners.

Florida CareerSource has established a Hurricane Michael Recovery Fund.

“Following Hurricane Michael, we are doing everything we can to help our communities return to normal,” Gov. Scott said in a statement.

“CareerSource Florida’s Hurricane Michael Disaster Recovery Fund will move these efforts forward by helping more people get back to work. We won’t rest until every Floridian has the needed resources to recover.”

Services may include individual career consulting services, the creation of a Specialized Job Development Team, extended hours at career centers, or recruiting and hiring events, to name a few.

For a comprehensive list of recovery resources, visit the Hurricane Michael Disaster Recovery Programs page. To find recovery-related jobs, visit the Disaster Recovery Jobs Portal.

VISIT FLORIDA launches hurricane, red tide marketing initiative

The state’s tourism-marketing agency is spending nearly $9 million on a robust advertising campaign to highlight the Sunshine State after it was struck particularly hard this year by red tide and Hurricane Michael.

Visit Florida CEO Ken Lawson (center) is pushing a new marketing campaign to support the Panhandle, and communities affected by red tide.

VISIT FLORIDA announced this week that more than $5.1 million would be spent to support the Panhandle, which suffered extensive damage from the hurricane. Nearly $3.8 million will be spent to assist communities affected by red tide, a naturally occurring algae outbreak that prompted a state emergency in August.

“We have been focused on helping our state’s tourism industry remain strong before the upcoming winter season,” Gov. Scott said in a statement.

“It’s more important than ever to provide Florida with an aggressive marketing plan that showcases the areas of the state that are ready to welcome visitors now,” added VISIT FLORIDA president and CEO Ken Lawson.

Honoring those who hire people with disabilities

In recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) staff at the Department of Education recognized five Miami employers for their “commitment to hiring people with disabilities.”

The following were honored: Academica, Chick-fil-A, Red Lobster, Vezina Lawrence & Piscitelli, and Wingstop.

Education Secretary Pam Stewart is honoring a group of companies that give jobs to people with disabilities.

“Individuals with disabilities contribute greatly to our communities and are integral to our state’s workforce,” Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said.

“Through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, we are proud to connect job seekers with disabilities to career opportunities that enable them to lead more independent lives. I hope more businesses will follow in the footsteps of today’s honorees.”

VR is a federal-state program that is committed to helping individuals with disabilities find meaningful careers and helping employers find qualified employees.

“As a partner in Florida’s statewide workforce system, VR focuses on helping youth, students and adults get the skills, education and supports needed to compete in today’s labor market,” a news release explained.

For more information, visit www.rehabworks.org.

Volunteer Florida grants to nonprofits

Volunteer Florida this week said it was awarding $360,000 in Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant funding to 24 nonprofit and service organizations throughout the state.

Volunteer Florida, the lead agency for volunteerism and national service in Florida, administers $31.7 million in federal, state, and local funding for national service and volunteer programs statewide. (Image via Volunteer Florida)

Each organization will receive a $15,000 grant, and together they will match the funding with $360,000 in local donations. In total, $572,000 will be invested in Florida’s communities.

David Mica Jr., CEO at Volunteer Florida, called it “a unique program, strategically promoting skills-based volunteerism in order to increase productivity within organizations, and in turn, generate a more significant impact among their respective beneficiaries throughout Florida.”

In 2018-2019, VGF will help grantees recruit, manage and support approximately 9,600 skills-based volunteers, who will collectively contribute a minimum of 72,000 hours of service throughout the state — a value of $1,679,760.

Click here to see the full list of VGF grantees.

Conservatives grade Florida Legislature

From the perspective of the American Conservative Union Foundation, the Legislature improved in 2018.

In a scorecard released this week by the right-leaning group, the overall “conservative score” improved from 69 percent to 75 percent.

American Conservative Union Foundation Chair Matt Schlapp says the Florida Legislature is getting just a little bit more conservative.

“Florida lawmakers voted to reduce the tax burden on Florida families and advance a constitutional amendment to limit the legislature’s power to increase taxes in the future,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “We applaud them for enacting common-sense conservative reforms that benefit families and small businesses.”

On average, Republican House members scored 98 percent, while the Democrats scored an average of 32 percent. In the Senate, the average Republican finished with a 95 percent score. The average Democrat, 45 percent.

The complete scorecard is available here.

Parks foundation offers aid to DEP employees

The Florida State Parks Foundation is establishing a $50,000 grant fund for Department of Environmental Protection employees who suffered hardships from Hurricane Michael.

“With so many of our neighbors in North Florida impacted, we wanted to help DEP employees get back on their feet — which puts them in a better position to provide help to their neighbors, as well,” said Pingree, president of the foundation “Working with DEP, we can quickly provide support to the employees who work tirelessly to protect Florida’s natural resources and award-winning state parks.”

Ben Pingree, president of the Florida State Parks Foundation, is working toward a quick recovery to DEP employees affected by Hurricane Michael.

The money will be made available to DEP employees in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington.

To be eligible for the grant money, an applicant must be a DEP employee. As well, the applicant must have “suffered a complete loss or significant damage of habitation by Hurricane Michael’s impacts or be without life-sustaining necessities such as food, water, medicines or medical services.”

FSU researchers examine Wakulla Springs browning

The water at Wakulla Springs is turning brown, and the reason isn’t crystal clear.

But Florida State University researchers recently discovered two possible contributing factors.

“We’re surrounded in the southeast by dark waters, so these clear-water springs have been seen as a boon to tourism for the area,” said Robert Spencer, an associate professor who directed the study into the browning waters. “Historically, it’s one of the things that Tallahassee is most famous for. Aside from the potential effects on local tourism, it’s inherently gloomy to see these changes in such a beautiful local landmark.”

FSU assistant professor Robert Spencer is seeking an explanation for why the clear water of Wakulla Springs is turning brown. (Image via FSU)

Spencer and a team of scientists found that the foliage of the Apalachicola National Forest, “leach down into the groundwater, giving it a distinctive earthy shade.”

Because groundwater extraction has rapidly increased in the past 50 years, the water getting into the springs could be less diluted, or more brown, than before.

Rising global sea levels could also be a factor, the scientists found. Underwater springs transport brown water out to sea, but with more ocean water available, the springs can become “backed up.”

Capitol Directions

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.26.18

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

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

Good morning. This is really the only story that matters:

Maclay football’s Brecht Heuchan, Athlete of the Week” via Brian Miller of the Tallahassee Democrat — What is something people know about you that you wish they knew? “I think the thing that embodies me as a player is I don’t care about personal performance. Last year, I was self-centered and tracking my stats. I wanted to be at a certain point. And it was at cost to my confidence. I was discouraged when I wasn’t on track. So, I’ve learned to accept my role. There hasn’t been a game this year where I’ve thrown over 20 passes. I’ve grown to the point where I don’t really care about stats. If I throw 50 passes or five passes, I just want us to win.” What your personal goals before the season started? “Cutting down turnovers was No. 1. Be more efficient. I stayed away from personal goals. Just win at all costs.”

Congrats to Maclay football’s Brecht Heuchan, Athlete of the Week. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @FLGovScott: Glad to be at Tyndall AFB with @VP Mike Pence this morning. We just secured his commitment that the base will be rebuilt — this is great news for all the Floridians who rely on Tyndall.

@MarcACaputo: Generation Gap/Chasm: earlier, Sen. Bill Nelson closes his speech by telling the young voters that, after Election Day, they’ll be singing “Happy Days are Here Again.” The song came out in 1929, when their great grandparents were their age

— @ErinGaetz: Wanna know why that Gillum answer from the debate went viral? Well, for starters, his team had the good sense to cut it quickly and put it online. So many campaigns don’t get digital enough to see how pushing one clip can set the narrative. This isn’t rocket science, guys.

@NewsBySmiley: Gillum says @RepTedDeutch recently played @RonDeSantisFL in their debate prep, and was so aggressive that he didn’t want to talk to him afterward

@GBennettPost: Crowd in the hundreds for @AndrewGillum FAU rally, but it’s in a 2,400-seat venue.

@RepCurbelo: Happy 45th anniversary to Florida’s home away from home in DC @FloridaHouseDC. A lot has changed in 45 years but not the high quality of our orange juice. FL26, stop on by the only state embassy in DC during your visit!

@ElectionSmith: Concerned that you vote might not count? If you VBM, go online or call your Supervisor of Elections to make sure your VBM ballot doesn’t have any problems; if it does, you have time to ‘cure’ it in FL. If you voted EIP, and didn’t vote a provisional ballot, your vote will count.

@MCIMaps: Regarding question of what Puerto Ricans settling in Florida post Hurricane Maria… Hispanic Reg up 170,213, White Reg up 122,895, Black Reg up 41,184. Hispanic share went from 15.7% to 16.5%. Some of this is natural uptick, some if folks setting here

@MBakerTBTimes#FSU announces it received a $1 million anonymous donation after Taggart and his family made a personal $1 million donation toward the school’s football complex

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Thursday saw another 303,674 ballots come in through the post and the polls, boosting the overall number of votes cast in the 2018 general election to more than 1.75 million — a more than 20 percent increase over Tuesday’s total of 1.45 million votes.

Those ballots include 102,241 major party VBM returns and 123,080 major party voters showing up in person to cast an early vote. Republicans’ overall total of 748,325 keeps them close to the 43 percent share of the total vote they’ve held throughout the week. Democrats are still just shy of the 40 percent mark with 695,158 total votes.

Democrats lag behind GOP voters in VBM returns by 56,072 ballots while holding a slim lead in early votes. Third- and no-party voters have combined to cast 308,495 votes — an increase of 54,558 day-over-day — and are still straddling the line between 17 percent and 18 percent of the total vote.

As of the final update from the Florida Division of Elections Thursday, 1,351,433 mail ballots had been filled out and delivered back to county supervisors, though there were still just over 2 million such ballots outstanding. There are 829,420 Democrats who’ve yet to send their ballots back, followed by 716,513 Republicans and 242,255 other voters.

A final factoid: Thursday saw general election VBM returns eclipse the record numbers posted during the August primary election by a handful of votes.

— TOP STORIES —

Donald Trump fears Florida wipeout” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – The White House is planning a political rescue mission in Florida, fearing a wipeout in a key swing state next month that could damage President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes. Trump is expected to visit the state at least twice, according to two people familiar with the plans. Visits from several Cabinet members are likely, as well. Presidential text messages are being sent to Floridians who still haven’t cast their absentee ballots. And discussions are underway about blanketing the state with robocalls from Trump. … Behind the scenes, Trump aides have been in contact with top Florida Republicans on a near daily basis, and people close to the president concede that they are worried. “It is both my hope and my expectation that the president will be in Florida so much between now and the election that Floridians will be hearing ‘Hail to the Chief’ in their dreams,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally who’s been in touch with the president. … Aides to Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott insist they’re ahead and point out that early vote numbers are favorable. But they concede the races are close. On Tuesday, Blaise Hazelwood, the top strategist for a pro-Scott super PAC, sent a memo to donors, warning them that the contest was tight and pleading with them for additional financial help. … As they orchestrate the 11th-hour presidential push, senior Republicans are privately griping about the Florida Republican Party. Once the force behind a powerful get-out-the-vote machine, the state party has been in decline in recent years, struggling especially in its efforts to raise money.

A dozen days to go: Ratings changes in gubernatorial, house races” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Political prognosticator Larry Sabato upgraded Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election, while downgrading the chances for Republican Rep. Brian Mast, and suggested it may be harder for the GOP to hold Ron DeSantis’ old seat. Sabato’s Crystal Ball political rankings shifted today by moving Florida’s 16th Congressional District into the “Likely Republican” column. That’s good news for Buchanan and a blow to Democratic challenger David Shapiro. But Sabato’s shift in rankings proves more daunting for the GOP in Florida’s 18th and 6th Congressional districts. Florida’s gubernatorial and Senate races remain “toss-ups.”

Brian Mast gets a downgrade.

— DESANTIS VS. GILLUM —

Public poll and new internal numbers show tightening Guv race — DeSantis has been down in the polls, though a pair of new measures shows he’s certainly not out. The first poll, an internal survey circulated by DeSantis’ campaign, showed the former Congressman with a 1-point lead over Gillum, 47-46 percent, with third-party candidates siphoning off 2 percent and 6 percent still undecided. The second poll, a public poll produced by Strategic Research Associates, found DeSantis with a 3-point edge, 48-45 percent. While the polls are certainly welcome news in DeSantis Land, those leads were within the margin of error in both polls. RealClearPolitics’ average of public polls currently lists Gillum with a 4.5 percent lead in the general election matchup. That average includes the SRA poll as well as the outlier poll released by CNN earlier this week that showed Gillum up 12 points, by far his largest margin in any poll to date.

False attack ad says DeSantis ‘knocked out a young kid at a bar’” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — It’s true DeSantis, 40, was interviewed by a deputy on a late night in 2000, when he was 21, following a bar fight in Clearwater. The address listed on the report was previously listed as a nightclub called The Venue. But he was neither the suspect nor the victim. The man who was punched, who was 23, identified a different man. The victim said at the time he was “positive” about the identity of his attacker. DeSantis told the deputy “he knew there was a fight inside, but he did not observe anything.” The attack ad was launched Wednesday by a Florida political committee called Florida Truth. The PAC has not yet filed any of its campaign finance reports, so it is unclear who financed the ad.

Everglades Trust defends DeSantis endorsement as other greens pounce” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – Everglades Trust Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell says she knew her group’s endorsement of Republican Ron DeSantis in the race for Florida governor was going to be difficult to explain to many environmentalists. But Mitchell says she stands behind the decision. Even as the trust faces criticism from the Florida Democratic Party and groups including the Sierra Club, she said the support is justified for one simple reason: DeSantis meets the organization’s 22 criteria for endorsement. Gillum does not.

DeSantis health plan calls for more patient choices” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — After weeks of criticism over his lack of a health care plan, DeSantis posted the proposal online shortly before his final debate with Democratic candidate Gillum. The plan calls for people to have the right to buy the health care they want; use price-transparency tools to shop for care; and get rebates from insurers when patient choices save money. The plan said DeSantis would maintain quality care by “resisting any effort to ration health care” in Tallahassee. “Floridians have more choices in picking out their cellphone plans than their health insurance plans. Every day in the grocery store, we make decisions about what we want to buy, weighing price, necessity, and quality, and deciding what’s right for us,” the proposal said. “But, when it comes to something as important as health care, we have fewer choices and less information.”

Dems decry ‘DeSantiscare” via Florida Politics — Just hours before Vice President Mike Pence was slated to appear at a Jacksonville rally for DeSantis, Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Michael Blake issued a blunt message: DeSantis’ health care plan was too little, too late. “Twelve days from the election,” Blake said, “what we have seen from Ron DeSantis is completely avoiding this critical conversation.” Blake, an alumnus of the Obama White House, called the ‘DeSantiscare’ plan a “sham and a disgrace,” showing evidence of a “lack of seriousness” on the Republican’s part. Blake noted that he had not seen, in 34 states he’s visited as vice-chair, this kind of “absolute disregard” regarding the rollout of a health care plan.

Andrew Gillum’s ‘Hamilton,’ NYC outings may violate ethics laws; his attorney says not so” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — State ethics laws forbid the kind of behavior detailed in volumes of texts, emails and other records released by that very lobbyist, Adam Corey, who was Gillum’s close friend for years. Gillum and his attorney, Barry Richard of Tallahassee, maintain the Mayor did nothing wrong. They say Gillum got the “Hamilton” tickets from his brother, Marcus Gillum, who was along during the New York City trip. They also say the Mayor stayed only one night at the downtown Millennium Hotel, and it was in his brother’s room. “I don’t think there was a violation of anything,” Richard told the Tallahassee Democrat.

Gillum rallies support after nasty debate” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — On the heels of a vicious debate, Gillum decried the nasty nature of the nationally watched Florida race but at the same time likened his Republican opponent, DeSantis, to a temperamental child. Gillum kicked off a bus tour in Miami, visited three college campuses and appeared at a temple in Plantation, with early voting underway and the clock winding down on the Nov. 6 election. Speaking to a crowd of several hundred students and supporters at an auditorium on the Florida Atlantic University campus, Gillum mocked DeSantis’ performance during the second debate, during which the Republican exploded during questioning from moderator Todd McDermott. “He fell into the category of demonstrating the temperament of about a 4-year-old. I’m trying not to offend my kids, because I’ve got twin 4-year-olds. I certainly don’t want them to take their example from him,” Gillum said.

Things are getting nasty in the Florida gubernatorial race. Who woulda thunk it?

Gillum tells DeSantis to show some respect and stop calling him ‘Andrew’” via David Smiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Speaking to a crowd of college students at historically black Florida Memorial University Thursday afternoon, Gillum asked a half-full auditorium if they’d seen the debate at Broward College. The audience cheered. Gillum, who also debated DeSantis Sunday on CNN, mockingly pointed out that his opponent continued to call him “Andrew” on stage in both events — a decision that some politicos found to be poor form. “I met him for the first time the other night and then all of a sudden, without invitation, he was calling me only as Andrew. Between the two of us, he quit his job in Congress, I’m a sitting mayor, and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew?” Gillum said. “I wanted to correct him, y’all, but I didn’t want to be petty. So, we just we pushed all the way through.”

Spotted: Coming in at No. 94 on Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment List”: Gillum, sharing the spot with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Beto O’Rourke. Here’s the listing: “The left’s best hope: If Bernie launched the democratic-socialist revolution against ossified neoliberalism, these are his successors — avatars of the left’s flirtation with universalism and its best attempt to close the enthusiasm gap.”

Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Jeanette Nuñez will attend a series of events: 8 a.m., meet-and-greet hosted by College Republicans and Hispanic Conservatives in Action, University of Tampa — The Skyes Chapel, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa; 10 a.m.: Patriots North Hillsborough Victory Office visit, 15411 North Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa; noon, Tampa Bay Christian Academy Tour and parent roundtable, 6815 N. Rome Avenue, Tampa.

Assignment editors — DeSantis, his wife Casey and running mate Nuñez, will join Mayor Carlos Hernández of Hialeah and Mayor Carlos Giménez of Miami-Dade County for a major announcement, 3 p.m., Chico’s Restaurant, 4070 W. 12th Ave., Hialeah.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Another story you won’t read in Sunburn — POLITICO Florida reports that the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund endorsed Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for re-election. Derp.

Florida GOP launches new Ashley Moody ad — The Republican Party of Florida’s new ad for Moody slams Democrat Sean Shaw’s “liberal progressive record and inexperience,” calling him “unqualified.” The ad also notes she has been endorsed by “nearly 90 percent of all Florida Sheriffs,” along with three major newspapers in Jacksonville, Naples, and Tampa Bay.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

GOP attorneys general give boost to Moody” via the News Service of Florida — The Republican Attorneys General Association last week contributed $300,000 to the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody, which plays a key role in Moody’s Nov. 6 election bid. The contribution made up more than half of the $587,600 that Friends of Ashley Moody raised between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19, according to a new finance report posted on the state Division of Elections website. The committee also spent $387,205 during the week, with $385,000 of that amount funneled to the Republican Party of Florida. The committee had nearly $650,000 in remaining cash on hand as of Oct. 19.

John Morgan endorses Nikki Fried for Ag. Commissioner” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Orlando attorney, entrepreneur and marijuana advocate Morgan gave his full-throated endorsement to Democrat Fried in the race for Agriculture Commissioner. Morgan, a self-made multimillionaire known for his personal injury law firm’s ubiquitous advertisements, announced his support in a Thursday tweet. He admitted that the office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a Cabinet-level position, was one he “never cared about — until now.” Morgan was behind the 2016 state constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana … Fried (was) a lobbyist who specialized in representing medical marijuana concerns.

FRIED
Marion Hammer has Nikki Fried in her sights. (Sorry, we couldn’t help it.)

NRA lobbyist fires back at Fried” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer sent out a blistering critique of Democratic agriculture-commissioner candidate Fried, who opened October by saying she would curtail Hammer’s access to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Hammer’s statement to members of the NRA and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida labeled Fried an “anti-gun extremist who will eliminate our freedoms.” The lobbyist also reaffirmed the NRA’s endorsement of Republican Matt Caldwell to replace term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. In addition, Hammer pointed out that Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, supports Fried. Last week, the group announced it was putting $1.8 million behind Fried, in addition to $2 million going to support Fried and two other Democrats running for state Cabinet posts — Sean Shaw, who is running for attorney general, and Jeremy Ring, who is running for state chief financial officer.

Campaign to win voting rights for Florida felons enters home stretch” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — In a year when voters face a dizzying array of a dozen ballot questions, many testing their patience by merging several unrelated subjects into a single all-or-nothing proposition, supporters of Amendment 4 say it has been a challenge getting an uncluttered message to voters. But strong financial support from donors, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, has paid for a more visible campaign in recent weeks, including $5 million in advertising on TV in English and Spanish and on social media. Leading out-of-state donors include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, League of Conservation Voters, Texas psychologist Laurie Michaels, and the Open Philanthropy Action Fund of Palo Alto, California. Political support has come from such diverse groups as Catholic bishops, the Christian Coalition of America, veterans, NFL stars such as Warrick Dunn, entertainer John Legend and a political committee funded by the conservative Koch network.

Supreme Court explains its OK of victims’ rights ballot language” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court, as promised, issued its written decision explaining why it allowed the Constitution Revision Commission’s victims’ rights amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot — and the majority swept aside complaints the ballot language is misleading. The title and summary inform voters of the chief purpose of the proposal and do not mislead regarding its scope and effect,” said the majority of Chief Justice Charles Canady and justices Jorge Labarga, Alan Lawson and Ricky Polston. A dissent, however, predicted the measure would bog down the courts in disputes pitting its list of protections for victims against defendants’ long-established due-process rights. “I have genuine concerns that the new, comprehensive manual of victims’ rights created by Amendment 6 would, in fact, impact our criminal justice system and the rights of the accused,” Justice Barbara Pariente wrote.

— MORE NOTES FROM THE TRAIL —

Mike Miller punches back on Democrats’ attack ad for mischaracterizing his role in lake project” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second ad “Exclusive” declares, “Luxurious, exclusive and newly renovated, a private golf course updated with your tax dollars, thanks to politician and lobbyist Miller. Miller helped steer taxpayer money to the club for renovations.” Miller’s campaign said that the effort had been to deal with chronic stormwater and environmental problems caused by runoff, involving a lake, Spring Lake; the neighborhood of Spring Lake; two major highways, Orange Blossom Trail and West Colonial Drive; and the Country Club of Orlando. n a news release, Miller’s campaign had a resident of Spring Lake respond. “I am sad and disturbed to see an ad on television that disparages a hardworking public official, like Mike Miller from doing his job to address a decade-long environmental issue,” Spring Lake resident Susie Day said.

To view the original ad, click on the image below:

House Republican ad blasts Kristen Carlson for ‘supporting’ Nancy Pelosi — Congressional Leadership Fund (@CLFSuperPAC), the super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership is releasing “Doubling,” its first ad in Florida’s 15th Congressional District race. The ad is blasting Carlson for “supporting” Minority Leader Pelosi. The ad will run on television in the Tampa Bay media market and on digital platforms throughout the district. “Pelosi’s liberal allies are funding Carlson’s campaign because she would be a rubber stamp for Pelosi’s tax-raising agenda,” said Courtney Alexander, CLF Communications Director.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

There’s a lot of money behind that ad — A few days after Spano was trumped by Lakeland Democrat Carlson and the DCCC’s combined $825,000 ad buy in CD 15, reinforcements have landed. A new, $500,000 media buy has come through in the Tampa media market by way of the CLF. The ad buy boost comes after Spano and the National Republican Congressional Committee combined to buy just $127,000 in ad time earlier this week. The new media buy is set to run from Oct. 26 through Election Day.

New Lauren Baer ad bashes Brian Mast over criticism of 9/11 comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Baer campaign is out with a new ad pushing back against an ad from Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, which rebukes a column from Baer criticizing American foreign policy shortly after the 9/11 attacks.” 9/11 had a profound impact on my life,” Baer begins. “It’s the reason that I went into foreign policy and spent the bulk of my career working to defend American values abroad. Our country was safer, more secure, when other countries are more like us. That’s what I did when I advised two Secretaries of State on how to promote democracy and human rights. “I have never questioned Congressman Mast’s patriotism, and I find it deeply disgraceful that he feels the need to discredit mine.”

to view the ad, click on the image below:

With Honor pulls ad criticizing Baer 9/11 comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With Honor, a nonpartisan group aimed at electing veterans to Congress, has now pulled an ad criticizing Baer over her critiques of American foreign policy folloing 9/11. “Our mission at With Honor, a cross-partisan organization, is to support Republican, Democrat, and independent veteran candidates that put principles first to help fix our broken politics,” said the group’s CEO Rye Barcott in a statement spotted by TCPalm’s Ali Schmitz on Twitter. “With Honor released a political advertisement that I believe does not live up to the spirit of our organization. We decided to take this advertisement down. We commit to learn and do better, and we remain strongly supportive of Mast for Congress.”

NYT poll gives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell razor-thin edge in CD 26” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The latest poll from The New York Times (NYT) has Mucarsel-Powell ahead of Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo but just 1 percentage point in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The Times surveyed 499 likely voters Oct. 19-24. Mucarsel-Powell earned 45 percent support to Curbelo’s 44 percent, with 11 percent undecided. That’s a net movement of 4 percentage points toward Mucarsel-Powell from the last time the NYT surveyed the race. Last month, they had Curbelo ahead 47 percent to 44 percent. The Mucarsel-Powell campaign says the results show they have the edge as the campaign closes out ahead of Election Day on Nov. 6. “As we head into these last weeks before Election Day, the momentum is firmly in Debbie’s favor,” said Melvin Félix, a Mucarsel-Powell spokesperson.

New ad calls Carlos Curbelo ‘the lawmaker we need’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The new ad, titled “The Lawmaker We Need,” features testimony from two parents who lost their son in the Pulse Nightclub Shooting back in 2016. In the minute-long spot, Maria and Fred Wright reflect on the loss of their son, Jerry, before describing their talks with Curbelo over how to reduce gun violence in the U.S. “He was a wonderful son, a wonderful friend, and we miss him terribly,” Maria says. “When Jerry was killed, we felt we had to do something to speak out for the voice he didn’t have. So we went to Washington to talk to our lawmakers, and we met Carlos then. He took a picture of our son, and he has told us repeatedly he still has that photo, and he keeps it.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

New Pride Fund ad reminds voters of NRA $75K investment in Curbelo — Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC — America’s only LGBTQ political organization focused primarily on gun violence prevention — today released their most recent campaign ad titled “Consistency.” The ad reminds voters in Florida’s 26th Congressional District how incumbent Curbelo was elected with the help of over $75,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA, and in exchange, his votes in Congress have reflected the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda. The ad then shows how Democratic opponent Debbie Mucarsel-Powell stands apart: through her personal experience with gun violence, she is listening to the loud calls for change to our nation’s gun laws and is ready to act on this issue in Congress.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Homestead man arrested after Curbelo gets death threat on Twitter” via Alex Daugherty and Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — A 19-year-old Homestead man was arrested after threatening Curbelo on Twitter, the same day packages suspected of containing explosive material were delivered to a host of liberal political figures around the country. Curbelo initially addressed the threat directly on his Twitter account. “Political intoxication is making some Americans more prone to both verbal and physical violence,” he tweeted. “It’s a serious crisis and we all have to do our part to put an end to it. Not sure what’s more disturbing; the fact that someone tweeted this or that 4 accounts liked it.” Pierre Alejandro Verges-Castro, 19, was arrested by the FBI in conjunction with Capitol Police and the Homestead Police Department, according to law enforcement officials. Verges-Castro was charged with making written threats to kill.

In House District 63, they register Democrat and vote Republican” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — “After redistricting, it was one Democrats were supposed to keep winning in Hillsborough County,” said Victor DiMaio, a political consultant not involved in the District 63 race. It hasn’t worked out that way. Republican State Rep. Shawn Harrison has held the seat since 2014, even though Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 6,100 among registered voters in 2014 and by nearly 7,700 more in 2016. Since Republicans tend to send more voters to the polls than Democrats in nonpresidential elections, especially in areas like District 63 with a number of university students, “this should be Harrison’s year,” DiMaio said. “We’ll find out if the blue wave is a wave or a trickle.”

In circuit judge race, Jamey Moody and Robin Fuson are pushing campaign restrictions” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Negative campaigning is rare in judicial races because of strict legal limits, but it’s popping up in the circuit judge race between Fuson and Moody. The Moody campaign has posted a website and is running an ad calling attention to allegations — false, according to Fuson — that he was once fired as a Hillsborough substitute teacher for allowing students to watch a porn film in a classroom and was demoted as an assistant state attorney for improper case management. Backers of Fuson, meanwhile, have spread word that Moody may have violated campaign rules for judges by touting support from state Sen. Tom Lee. Judicial candidates aren’t supposed to associate their campaigns with parties or partisan candidates. Moody is the brother of Ashley Moody, GOP candidate for attorney general.

In final stretch of midterm elections, Parkland shooting survivors visiting colleges” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — The March for Our Lives movement, which includes students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, will make its second stop on the 12-day “Vote for Our Lives” tour at Florida International University this Saturday to continue the group’s momentum through the midterm elections. The group aims to encourage young people to vote and prevent gun violence. Students will also make stops at the University of South Florida campus in Sarasota, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida A&M University and University of North Florida, as well as at universities in California, Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Minneapolis.

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Michael survivors struggle to access health care” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Some need as little as a few dollars for gas to refill prescriptions at a pharmacy or get checkups before surgery. Others have doctors whose offices blew away or they need tanks of oxygen to breathe. Some patients, tending to their families, worry about scheduling appointments for children — or prenatal checkups for mothers and babies yet to be born. What remains for them in Michael’s wake is dread, doubt and an uncertain timeline for a return to normal healthcare. It can take years for communities to recover from a disaster as devastating as Hurricane Michael, said Dr. Patricia Cantwell, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami who has worked in disaster zones for more than two decades. In such all-encompassing emergencies, the intricate infrastructure of healthcare often shows some of the first and longest-lasting cracks.

’Why are we still here?’ Unrest and violence at Panhandle prison hit hard by Michael” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — At Apalachee Correctional’s East Unit, Michael toppled fences and security infrastructure, tore the roofs off ancillary structures such as the library and laundry buildings and punctured the roofs of multiple dorms, which are now covered in tarps. The conditions degraded to the point where officials placed inmates on restricted movement for nearly a week, meaning they ate only cold sandwiches; had no recreation time or access to canteens. Tensions spiked as a result. In one dorm at the East Unit, they ran so high that a riot nearly broke out. In an unrelated incident, at least one inmate was stabbed. “Why are we still here?” asked Michael Henderson, an inmate at Apalachee, in an email sent to the Times-Union. “If we can’t get to see the medical provider, or have telephone access to a lawyer, why are we still here?”

Majority of Michael claims coming from Bay County” via the News Service of Florida — About 60 percent of the insurance claims filed in the two weeks after Hurricane Michael were from hard-hit Bay County, according to data posted online by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. As of Wednesday afternoon, 101,145 insurance claims had been filed from the Oct. 10 storm, with 61,054 claims in Bay County. The next-highest number was 10,569 claims in Jackson County, followed by 6,693 claims in Leon County, 5,902 claims in Gulf County and 4,178 claims in Gadsden County. The overall estimated insured losses as of Wednesday totaled $1.344 billion.

Anti-AOB warnings draw backlash from restoration contractors via Florida Politics — A contractors’ trade association lashed out Thursday against Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis over his warnings to insurance policyholders in the Hurricane Michael zone against signing assignment of benefits agreements. “Don’t let crooked contractors push you to sign away your insurance benefits,” one such advisory reads, delivered by Patronis via his Twitter feed. The message complained of “high pressure” sales tactics. “DO NOT SIGN anything — call your insurance company or my office at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO first,” that tweet shouts. “The bad acts of a few should not be used to paint a broad brush for an entire industry of professional contractors and small business owners who are working around the clock to help Floridians struggling to get their lives back to normal in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael,” Restoration Association of Florida spokeswoman Amanda Prater said in a written statement.

Verizon, after backlash, says Panama City will be one of the first to get 5G service” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Panama City is joining Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento and Indianapolis in getting the service, which promises download speeds many times faster than traditional 4G LTE. “This is about helping Panama City rebuild better than ever,” Verizon spokeswoman Kate Jay said. The service might just be Verizon’s in-home 5G service, which is meant to replace your traditional home Wi-Fi, albeit with superfast speeds. The other four cities got that service this month. But the service could be over Verizon’s cell towers, like a traditional cellular network. That’s cutting-edge technology that the carrier doesn’t expect to start rolling out until 2019 (other carriers are racing to roll out 5G as well). No phones currently sold are equipped to use 5G cellular technology.

After Hurricane Michael, Verizon put Panama City on the list as one of the first areas to get the latest 5G service.

PSC Commissioner Gary Clark laments deaths of three line workers — The men were struck in a hit-and-run accident while restoring power Wednesday near Chipley. “These three men, along with countless others, worked round-the-clock to restore power and return normalcy to the people in areas that were devastated,” the Public Service Commission member said in a written statement. “They will forever be remembered and are the perfect illustration of the dedication of linemen all across the nation.” The dead — George Cecil and Ryan Barrett, both of North Carolina, and James Ussery, of Chipley, were helping restore power to customers of the West Florida Electric Cooperative, where Clark spent most of his career. Clark testified to co-op line workers’ “devotion and compassion in action” and added: “My heartfelt sympathies are with the families of the deceased and the West Florida Electric Cooperative family as they go through this difficult time.”

Assignment editors — Florida Defense Support Task Force to visit Tyndall Air Force Base, with a press availability immediately following the tour, 2:30 p.m., flag Park, Tyndall Air Force Base. Media should RSVP with Kathleen Keenan at KKeenan@EnterpriseFlorida.com. Please meet at the Tyndall Visitor Center and a member of Tyndall’s Public Affairs team will escort media to Flag Park.

— STATEWIDE —

Motion: Scott’s financial ties to energy company should disqualify him from power plant vote” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The “motion for disqualification” filed by the Sierra Club says Scott’s investments in NextEra Energy Partners is a conflict of interest and should prevent him from ruling on a proposed natural gas plant in Dania Beach. Scott owns as much as $500,000 in NextEra Energy Partners, according to his Senate financial disclosures. NextEra Energy Partners is a company created by NextEra Energy, which is also the parent company of Florida Power & Light. Florida Power & Light is the company behind the proposed Dania Beach plant. The motion also notes the company’s campaign contributions to Scott. “Such entanglements create a conflict of interest between Governor Scott’s financial interests and the interests of Floridians, and preclude the Governor from voting on FPL’s latest fossil fuel-burning power plant without ‘bias, prejudice, or interest,’ ” the motion said.

Florida scores drop on the SAT; Most teens tested not ready for college classes” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Even more troubling: Most of the Florida teens tested in the Class of 2018 weren’t considered ready for key college classes, based on the SAT data. The College Board released the Class of 2018’s SAT results for the nation and states across the county. The dataset comes about a week after rival testing giant ACT released its own college entrance exam scores nationwide, revealing stagnant and troubling results for Florida. The state’s average SAT score was 1014 for the Class of 2018, compared to 1017 the year before. The score is a combination of the math test and the reading and writing test. To put the numbers in perspective: The 1014 is well below the national average of 1067, and lower than several states that also have high participation on the SAT exam.

State Board of Education awards 14 ‘Hope’ awards to struggling schools” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Board of Education included Campbell Park, Ponce de Leon and Sandy Lane elementary schools among 14 recipients of the “Hope” awards for 2018-19. Campbell Park, which got an F grade in 2018, will receive $1.2 million. Ponce de Leon, which also earned an F, will get $1.1 million. Sandy Lane, which scored a D, will collect $672,000. The other recipients are Golfview Elementary (Brevard); Hyde Park, Rutledge Pearson, Long Branch and Susie Tolbert elementary schools (Duval); LaBelle Elementary (Hendry); Ballard and Palm View elementary schools (Manatee); Belleview-Santos Elementary (Marion); and Lake Shore Middle and Glade View Elementary (Palm Beach). Combined, the board allocated $12.8 million to the 14 schools. Twenty-one applied.

Judge sets arguments in Senate discrimination case” via the News Service of Florida — A federal judge has scheduled arguments Nov. 8 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. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle will hear arguments on a Senate request for a preliminary injunction in the case involving aide Rachel Perrin Rogers, who filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January. Lawyers for the Senate are seeking the injunction to block an administrative judge from requiring the Senate’s participation in the EEOC case. The Senate contends, in part, that it is protected by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity.

State says track can stop racing horses, keep slots” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — It’s big news in Florida’s gambling world: The pari-mutuel formerly known as Calder Race Course has gotten the OK from state gambling regulators to get out of the horse racing business. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering granted its petition for a declaratory statement on Thursday, records show. “Calder may operate a full schedule of jai alai performances and maintain its ‘eligible facility’ status to operate slot machine gaming,” the ruling said. Also, Calder “is not required to conduct summer jai alai performances in the state fiscal year preceding operation of slot machines as a summer jai alai licensee.” The decision could open the door for more pari-mutuels that want to get out of live racing.

Do state pollution controls work? Record phosphorus flow into Lake Okeechobee casts doubt” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — One state report paints a rosy picture: The amount of phosphorus, a fertilizer that feeds algae blooms, entering Lake Okeechobee is declining. Another is more dire: The amount of phosphorus entering Lake Okeechobee hit an all-time high in 2017. Who’s right? Turns out the first report, by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, is based on computer modeling and assumptions that “best management practices” are being used and achieving their best-possible results. The second report, by the South Florida Water Management District, uses data collected on site. The DEP says its numbers show the Basin Management Action Plan established to limit pollutants entering Lake Okeechobee is working. In fact, phosphorus concentrations in the lake rose slightly for two years and then spiked in 2017, according to water management district data. High levels of phosphorus feed algae blooms, like the one that covered much of Lake O this summer and flowed into the St. Lucie River with discharged lake water.

Lake County looking to Tallahassee for more help in combating hydrilla” via Jerry Fallstrom of the Orlando Sentinel — The hydrilla, with long stalks and clusters of leaves that form thick mats on the surface and hinder boat navigation, has gotten so bad on the Harris Chain of Lakes that Lake County officials worry it could threaten the county’s appeal as a fishing hot spot. After commissioners heard that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is financially strapped to combat the submersed plants on a large scale, they decided Tuesday to ask lawmakers for more resources to eliminate the nuisance plant. Commissioners added the request to their list of legislative priorities for the session that begins in March and also appeal to FWC for more help. A lack of funding to battle hydrilla is an issue across Florida.

Hydrilla is an invasive species that makes it difficult for boats to navigate infected waters.

— LATEST ON CAPITOL RENOVATIONS —

Nina Ashley, communications director for the Department of Management Services, provided this update: “The Senate parking garage reopened as scheduled in August … The garage has been fully waterproofed and, in the last few months, crews have been focused on installing the memorial park features. This has included grading, installing soil, and setting up lighting, benches, and trellises on both levels as well as installing stone paneling.

“Crews have installed pavers throughout the upper plaza level and have begun work on installing ‘hardscape’ features on the lower level. Hardscape and landscape work is scheduled to continue through the end of the calendar year on the south side of the Capitol Complex.

“On the north side, crews this month (will) begin removal of dirt and old waterproofing on the House parking garage. The fence line for that project extends into the two eastbound lanes of Jefferson Street and south toward the (old) Capitol … The House parking garage project, like the Senate parking garage project, is expected to last about two years.”

Work on the grounds of the Florida Capitol and its underground parking garages began after the Senate garage was first closed in May 2016. It was shut down when its primary support girder showed signs of stress after years of water intrusion.

The original waterproofing, which contained coal tar pitch, had degraded over the years and was letting in water. Structural engineers then saw “an accelerated deterioration” of parts of the garage.

Workers installed shoring for structural stability and removed trees and roughly 6,000 tons of dirt — 5,200 on the Senate and 900 on the House — from the Capitol’s grounds. That remediation has been part of a larger effort to renovate the Capitol grounds.

— DUNBAR’S DONE —

First in SunburnMarc Dunbar, a Tallahassee-based lawyer, gaming lobbyist and part-owner of Gretna Racing says he’s a part-owner no more.

His shares in the Gadsden County track and those of business partners David Romanik and Gene McGee, who combined owned 30 percent, were recently been bought out for an undisclosed amount by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which manages and operates the facility.

Dunbar out: Marc Dunbar is leaving Gretna Racing.

This move comes after his parting this summer with The Stronach Group after 19 years of representing their interests. The Stronach Group is the owner of Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, Florida’s only year-round thoroughbred racing facility, which has become embroiled in a bitter family feud over the control of the company.

Dunbar also represented the Gretna track, known as Creek Entertainment, in a lawsuit over expanding slot machines to counties that approved them in local referendums. The Florida Supreme Court eventually ruled that wasn’t allowed under existing state gambling law.

Dunbar is a partner in the Jones Walker firm’s Government Relations practice group, and he’s a member of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.’s board of governors.

He returned to his law practice this month after a five-month stint as interim Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the integrated mega-resort known as Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas.

“These moves close some of the final chapters on what has been a fun book for me,” Dunbar said, adding he is “happily looking forward to the next challenge.”

— OPINIONS —

Bomb scares and the politics of the apocalypse” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Days ahead of crucial midterm elections, the talk is not of better days or a brighter future. Instead, the climate is one of fear, of threat and of division, of caravans from Central America and angry mobs. And now, of explosive devices sent to two former Democratic presidents and others. This is a time of the politics of the apocalypse — an all-or-nothing view of the difference between winning and losing an election and of holding power or not holding it. There is no middle ground on what winning or losing means. This has been on the rise for a long time. But it has intensified of late. No one really knows how to roll it back. Politicians say that it is time for the country to come together. But on whose terms?

Andrew Gillum needs to explain conflicts in stories of lobbyist pals, FBI agents” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum, running for governor, certainly has the act down pat. When news broke this week about texts turned over to the Florida Commission on Ethics, regarding tickets to the Broadway smash “Hamilton” provided by an FBI sleuth posing as a developer seeking favors from the city, Gillum’s response was worthy of Richard Nixon in his devious prime. And he didn’t forget the race card as he suggested the records were just another attack on his integrity. “The goal is obviously to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men,” Gillum said. Whose goal? Are there unknown forces out there trying to torpedo him? With polls indicating a tight race, and considering Florida’s history of deciding gubernatorial elections within a percent or two, this is not what Gillum needs to be talking about in the last two weeks of the campaign.

— MOVEMENTS —

Board of Education asks Commissioner Pam Stewart to remain another year” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing a need for continuity as the state changes governors, the board asked Stewart to stick around for another year. And seeming to surprise even herself, a somewhat teary Stewart responded, “The answer is yes. I don’t know where that came from.” The board recognized all the accomplishments in a resolution that asked Stewart to remain. Although some might believe the governor picks the education commissioner, in Florida that role belongs to the Board of Education, which is made up of governor appointees.

Veterans Florida welcomes new board members — The nonprofit corporation, which assists veterans in the transition to civilian life, recently announced two new board members. House Speaker Richard Corcoran appointed retired Brigadier Gen. Jerry L. Neff and Robert Kirila. Both are “highly decorated veterans and have previously held positions meant to aid those currently serving in the military,” a news release said. The Veterans Florida Board of Directors’ main duties includes working with the Executive Director to approve new initiatives and leading the organization to continue its growth and long-term vision. Veterans Florida provides veteran-friendly education, institutions, and programs meant to maximize veteran employment opportunities.

— WEEKEND TV —

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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with attorney Jessica Ehrlich; Emeritus Professor of Government USF St. Petersburg Darryl Paulson; Director of Business and PR/S3Media Travis Horn; and Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s show will discuss Amendment 6 which would create constitutional rights for crime victims, as well as raise the mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges. Joining Walker-Torres are CRC Commissioner Tim Cerio, proposal sponsor; Michele Levy, League of Women Voters Florida Voter Services Chair; Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma; and Kirk Bailey, Political Director of the ACLU.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A discussion with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will speak with Dr. Ed Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Justice will speak with White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway; Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum and former Congressman Jason Altmire.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the midterm elections and Florida’s 27th Congressional District race, plus a roundtable discussing the news of the week.

— ALOE —

Powerball jackpot up to $750M, Florida Lottery says” via Florida Politics — Billed as the “fourth largest in U.S. lottery history,” the jackpot for Saturday’s Powerball drawing has reached an estimated $750 million, the Florida Lottery announced Thursday. The jackpot “has rolled 21 times since Aug. 15, generating more than $42.1 million in contributions to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF),” the Lottery said in a news release. Indeed, since joining the game in 2009, it’s “generated $1.8 billion in contributions to education statewide.”

Universal parks revenue down from Japan natural disasters” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Natural disasters in Japan caused Universal theme parks revenue to dip slightly to $1.53 billion for the third quarter compared to the same time period last year. Comcast Corp., which owns Universal Orlando parent NBCUniversal, released its third-quarter earnings and executives discussed the results during a conference call. Overall, Comcast beat Wall Street expectations, Reuters reported, as revenue jumped 5 percent to $22.1 billion for the quarter. Comcast stock (Nasdaq: CMCSA) ended Thursday up 5 percent, settling $35.84.

Happy birthday to Dan Dawson and forever his hair, as well as the great Tampa Bay Times reporter, Mark Puente.

Last Call for 10.25.18 — 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

Jennifer Newcome, chairman of the Committee to Support Greyhounds, which opposes Amendment 13 that would end live greyhound racing in Florida, says her opponents are trying to “suppress their message.”

“Yesterday afternoon, a letter was received in the mail by a Florida resident who reported the letter to a member of the Committee to Support Greyhounds,” she said in a news release. “Affixed to the envelope was a ‘Committee to Support Greyhounds’ return label with no address and a Palm Beach cancellation.

“The contents of the envelope were a single brochure from the ‘Yes on 13’ campaign — obviously made to look like this Committee had sent out the brochure. It is clearly a Paid Political ad sent by the opposition in an attempt to confuse voters.

“In addition to the obvious attempt to fool voters above by mailing these brochures in this Committee’s name, there was an additional attempt to suppress other organizations campaigning for a ‘No on 13’ vote.”

That referred to an “email … sent to voters instruct(ing) them to report the ‘No On 13’ campaign videos as ‘false news’ and have them reported and removed by Facebook.”

No matter who prevails, the bad blood between the two sides of the greyhound debate won’t end after Election Day, we think.

Evening Reads

Investigation into pipe bombs turns toward Florida as more Trump critics are targeted” via William Rashbaum, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman of the New York Times

Robert Mueller has evidence suggesting Roger Stone associate knew Clinton emails would be leaked” via Ken Dilanian and Anna Schecter of NBC News

Felon voting rights: Who got theirs back under Rick Scott” via Lulu Ramadan, Mike Stucka, Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post

Andrew Gillum vs. Ron DeSantis: Five takeaways from last night’s debate” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald

DeWorst debate” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

DeSantis internal polling now gives him slim lead over Gillum” via Peter Schorsch and Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Poll: DeSantis 48 percent, Gillum 43 percent” via WCTV

False attack ad says Ron DeSantis ‘knocked out a young kid at a bar’” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

DeSantis health care plan calls for more patient choices” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida

Gillum tells DeSantis to show some respect and stop calling him ‘Andrew’” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Meet the lawyer who dropped a political bombshell on the Governor’s race” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Direct mail round-up: Invoking partisan spirits for Amendment 2” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

NYT poll gives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell razor-thin edge in CD 26” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

New focus: Florida Democrats target long-ignored rural areas” via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

Quote of the Day

“I met him for the first time the other night and then all of a sudden, without invitation, he was calling me only as ‘Andrew.’ Between the two of us, he quit his job in Congress, I’m a sitting mayor, and he had the nerve to address me only as Andrew? I wanted to correct him, y’all, but I didn’t want to be petty. So, we just we pushed all the way through.” — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to an audience at Florida Memorial University, talking about his CNN debate with Republican Ron DeSantis.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

 

Wake Up Early?

State political candidates and committees face a Friday deadline to file reports showing finance activity through Oct. 19.

Dr. Susan MacManus will speak on Election 2018 at the next Café con Tampa meeting. The cost is $12 at the door, which includes a breakfast buffet. That’s at 8 a.m., Upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump, will speak at a Hillsborough County Republican Party dinner. That’s at 6:30 p.m., The Event Factory, 7565 West Hillsborough Ave., Tampa.

Looking Ahead

Early-voting locations will be open statewide Saturday for the Nov. 6 general election. Some counties started earlier in the week.

Rep. Sean Shaw, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, is expected to appear at a meet-and-greet event in Duval County. That’s Saturday at 5 p.m., Cuba Libre Ultra Lounge, 2578 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville.

The political committee Forward Florida will hold a reception in support of Democratic candidate for Governor Gillum. That’s Saturday at 6 p.m., Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick law firm, 101 E. Kennedy Blvd.-Suite 2800, Tampa.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.25.18

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

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

Florida’s population has surpassed 21 million people, according to estimates found on TheFloridaScorecard.org. The site houses thousands of metrics on Florida and each of Florida’s 67 counties. The Florida Chamber Foundation touted the news: “As the third largest state in the nation — that as of 2017 was steadily outpacing growth in states like New York — and with an economy that this year topped $1 trillion, Florida’s growth brings opportunity to our state.”

No one has won the big Powerball prize, so the estimated jackpot now grows to $750 million — the fourth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The next drawing will be Saturday.

On Wednesday night, when it was at $620 million, the Powerball jackpot looked sort of puny given all the attention lavished on the $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot won in South Carolina on Tuesday. But with two giant prizes in one week, it was hard not to compare.

Only three lottery jackpots have been larger than the next Powerball prize.

A top of Sunburn happy birthday wish to Mike Griffin, one of the very few people I would ‘cross the bridge’ to hang out with (other than Bob Buckhorn or Tony DeSisto).

Mike has (at least) two great accomplishments under his belt for 2018, one much more significant than the other. The first — and certainly less important of the two is that he was named to the INFLUENCE 100, Florida Politics’s listing of the 100 most influential people in Sunshine State politics. His second achievement was he and his incredible wife, Melanie, bringing home their baby boy, Maverick.

Here’s wishing Maverick’s dad a very happy birthday.

SpottedJoe Clements, Matt FarrarSara Clements of McGuire Woods (Joe’s better half) and Anna Alexopoulos Farrar, CFO’s chief spokesperson (and Matt’s better half), at last night’s Open House of the semi-new SDS Headquarters on Tennessee and Meridian in Tallahassee.  Also attending: Amanda Bevis, Ryan Smith of McNicholas and Associates, and Allison Aubuchon. On the menu was Mamma Mia and Mr. McSeeks from Mac Shack and plenty of adult beverages.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@MarcoRubio: An attack on an American who happens to be a Democrat, Republican or Independent is an attack on America. The terrorist behind this will soon find out that while a free people have politics that are conflictive, if you try to kill any of us you will have to face all of us.

—@PressSec: This is an ongoing situation that President Trump and his admin. are monitoring closely. Our condemnation of these dispicable [sic] acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.

—@DylanByers: Put the debate about President Trump’s past rhetoric aside … More pressing question is what will President Trump do now: He has called for unity. He has a rally tonight. His rallies follow a familiar script, including attacks against Democrats and the media. Will that change?

—@Fineout: .@realDonaldTrump announces MAGA rally in Fort Myers. As of right now, @FLGovScott won’t be there. “The governor is focused on hurricane recovery and we will keep everyone updated on any changes to the campaign schedule,” said @ChrisHartline

—@AGPamBondi: Honored to join @POTUS today as he signed the SUPPORT Act — the single largest legislative package addressing a single drug crisis in history. President Trump’s leadership & support in combating the opioid crisis is tremendous & I’m grateful for all he is doing to help save lives.

—@VoteJavi: Anyone else notice that neither DeSantis or Gillum are wearing a US Flag lapel pin? DeSantis is wearing a military ribbon, Gillum nothing. #FLGovDebate

—@MarcACaputo: This Florida gubernatorial debate moderator is committing the classic debate moderator mistake: not letting the candidates debate. This is about them, not you, not your prearranged questions

—@DeFede: This Florida governor’s debate is just awful. And once again I blame the format – this is an outdated model that focuses more on silly 30 second time constraints and the moderator’s constant interruptions and less on actually exploring the important subjects.

@GrayRohrer: JMI study  . . . . “non-partisan”

—@JuanPenalosa: .@RonDeSantisFL says @AndrewGillum is going to ban all handguns and then follows up by saying he is going to confiscate. Whaaaaattttt? That’s (a) not true; (b) crazy

—@LMower: Can someone explain how the Florida governor would have any say over ICE detainers? I thought police chiefs and prosecutors made those decisions.

—@KirbyWTweets: Florida gubernatorial debate moderator closes the proceedings by saying, “I think it’s been a great night for American democracy.” cc: @PolitiFact

—@CHeathWFTV: There are people out there who won’t care about the Gillum’s ticket, but absolutely care about Trump’s emoluments. -and- There are people out there who have not cared about Trump’s emoluments, but now care about the Gillum’s ticket. Tribalism is a hell of a thing.

—@SteveSchale: Sort of interesting, albeit random stat. Looking at total voter turnout by county, to date. For Republicans, their highest turnout percentage is Lee County (Ft Myers) – 27% turnout so far. For Dems, highest turnout is Sumter– The Villages. Dem turnout = 23%.

—@Montel_Williams: Carlos Curbelo is everything I hoped the GOP might become. He’s a good man whom I had planned to vote for. I’m going to vote for @DebbieforFL … My kids’ & future grandkids futures are on the ballot. For the first time in my adult life, I will vote an entirely democratic ticket.

—LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

As of Wednesday, nearly 1.2 million mail ballots have been returned to county supervisors of elections.

Another quarter-million voters had ticked a box through the first three days of early voting.

That amounts to 266,447 more ballots in supervisors’ hands than the last count released Tuesday night.

By party, Republicans have turned in 520,683 mail votes and made another 102,899 early votes while Democrats have mailed back 462,366 completed ballots and filled in another 108,366 at the polls. Third- and no-party voters have combined to cast 253,937 votes.

Just like Tuesday, Republican voters hold a 43 percent share of the 1,448,251 received so far with Democrats edging closer toward a 40 percent of the total vote. Other voters account for the remaining 17 percent of ballots cast.

Though nearly 1.2 VBM ballots have completed their round trip, there are still more than 2.1 million that have been delivered to voters but not sent back. Of those, 765,801 went to GOP voters, 881,866 went to Democrats and the remaining 478,771 in the hands of minor-party and unaffiliated voters.

— TOP STORY —

Suspect packages had this in common: A return address for Debbie Wasserman Schultz” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Suspicious packages sent to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire George Soros all had one thing in common: the return address was U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s office in Sunrise. A package sent to an incorrect address for Holder in Washington, D.C., was returned to Wasserman Schultz’s Sunrise office, prompting the evacuation of her office. The return address included misspellings of the street name, Wasserman Schultz’s last name and the state of Florida. A package addressed to Brennan and sent to CNN headquarters in New York had the same spelling errors as the package sent to Holder. Brennan does not work for CNN. He is a contributor to MSNBC. Packages for Obama and Clinton contained similar return addresses, according to law enforcement officials.

All the suspicious packages had one thing in common, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s return address.

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Remember the good old days of 2014 when the biggest dispute in the Florida Governor debate was whether Charlie Crist should be able to use a fan?

Now, after two debates between current candidates Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis, it’s clear that the gulf between Florida’s major parties has never been wider and about half the state is going to be gigantically depressed by the outcome on Nov. 6.

In keeping with the theme of the week, the controversy surrounding Gillum’s use of a ticket to “Hamilton” on Broadway, it’s a good thing that a duel like Alexander Hamilton had with Aaron Burr is against the law.

At a distance of just a few paces Wednesday night though, Gillum and DeSantis fired plenty of verbal shots at each other, including Gillum’s spelling out n-i-g-g-e-r when making a point that one of DeSantis’ supporters referred to Barack Obama by that term.

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

Ron DeSantis doesn’t like Andrew Gillum. And vice-versa.

DeSantis, it should be noted, came as close as he has yet in this campaign to losing his cool in public. The exchange was about an appearance the candidate made at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conference, where DeSantis praised Horowitz and said he admired the organization.

Horowitz has made racially charged about Obama.

Confronted with this, DeSantis lashed out, “How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?”

Well sir, in the same way Gillum was supposed to have made sure there was no question that he paid for his ticket to Hamilton – a story that blew up earlier this week after the Tampa Bay Times reported that it came from an undercover FBI agent.

Early in Wednesday’s debate, Gillum acknowledged, “I should have asked more questions to make sure everything was above board” instead of assuming his brother had exchanged a ticket to a Beyonce concert for the Hamilton seat.

Gillum said, “I take responsibility for not having asked more questions but let me tell you – I’m running for Governor. In the state of Florida, we’ve got a lot of issues. In fact, we’ve got 99 issues and Hamilton ain’t one of them.”

The whole night was like that.

Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis battle over FBI probe, racist attacks” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

First on #FlaPol –In robocall call, father of slain Parkland student says ‘Andrew Gillum is dangerous for Florida’” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics – Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead in February, is featured in a new robocall paid for by DeSantis. In the 45-second spot, Andrew Pollack suggests a DeSantis victory will “ensure that no parent loses their child in a school shooting again.” Gillum, on the other hand, is “now saying that he will defund the police, and keep them out of our schools,” Andrew Pollack says.  “That’s wrong and it’s dangerous,” continues Andrew Pollack, who introduces the call by noting his relationship to Meadow Pollack. “And it puts our kids at risk.”

Gillum says Florida can’t do single-payer alone” via CBS News — “I’ve endorsed ‘Medicare for All’ at the federal level,” he said. “I do not believe a state can accomplish that on its own. If a state did, it would probably find itself bankrupt pretty quickly, and largely because in a state like Florida, as you get the sickest pool coming to one location, the system would collapse under the weight of it.” Should a larger group of states decide to marshal their economic leverage, however, Gillum thinks “Medicare for All” would be worth considering. “If states were to make that move, the options might be to find a consortium of states who might be able to come together — cull together the buying power and the negotiating power of a collection of states to figure out whether or not we could, in fact, increase access and lower costs,” he said in an interview in Jacksonville.

To view the interview, click on the image below:

Ron DeSantis takes lead in matching funds” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis received a check for $323,762 on Friday, while no funds were sent to Gillum’s campaign. DeSantis has received a total of just over $2 million from the state through the voluntary program, which matches individual contributions of $250 or less to statewide candidates’ campaign accounts. Gillum, who surpassed DeSantis in terms of matching-funds on Oct. 17, has received nearly $1.73 million from the state program. In all, almost $7.45 million in matching funds have gone to nine candidates for governor and Cabinet seats this year.

Gillum ties DeSantis to racist robocalls day after asking they receive no ‘attention’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A day after saying the calls should not receive “any more attention than they already have,” Democrat Gillum accused his gubernatorial opponent of using “bigotry as a political ploy” after DeSantis tried to distance himself from overtly racist robocalls. In the statement, Gillum’s campaign hammered DeSantis for his response to the calls and said the former congressman needs to denounce Road to Power, the Idaho white supremacist group that claimed responsibility. “Making excuses for racist robocalls is disgusting,” Johanna Cervone, a spokeswoman for Gillum, said in a statement. “Using bigotry as a political ploy is just further evidence that Ron DeSantis will stop at nothing to divide our state.”

Beyond Hamilton, emails and texts raise questions on Gillum’s trips with lobbyists” via Lawrence Mower and Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — “If I had to do it again, I would have been a lot more circumspect about the people who are allowed to be around me and come into my space,” the Democratic nominee for Florida governor told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily. “But you know what, you live and you learn and you move on.” But records released hours earlier by Adam Corey‘s lawyer contradict Gillum’s portrayal of himself as naive, complicating the Tallahassee mayor’s bid for Florida governor and forcing voters to wonder whom to believe. Whether the controversy swirling around the case will matter to voters is another question. Floridians voted twice for Gov. Rick Scott despite his connection to the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history at the time. And DeSantis also faced an ethics complaint this year over a condo he rented from a campaign donor. DeSantis resigned from Congress before the case was resolved.

“You have to move on,” Andrew Gillum tells MTP host Chuck Todd.

’This is what local corruption looks like’: In Florida, DeSantis highlights reports that an FBI agent bought a ‘Hamilton’ ticket for Gillum” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — “This is what local corruption looks like,” DeSantis said during an appearance on Fox News, seeking to leverage the issue in the closing weeks of a race in which polls have shown him trailing. DeSantis’s comments came the day after text messages were made public that appeared to contradict previous statements by Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee, whose city has been the subject of a federal public corruption probe.

Jeanette Nuñez featured in new Spanish-language ad — A new Spanish-language ad produced by the Republican Party of Florida is featuring Lt. Gov. candidate Nuñez. In the 30-second ad airing statewide, Nuñez shares plans she and running mate DeSantis have to continue Florida moving in the “right direction.” Among the promises: “We want schools to have resources so that our children receive the best education.” “We will not raise taxes.” “We will always protect water quality and the environment and provide more opportunities for our families.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Gillum will attend ‘Vote Early, Vote Loud’ rallies at universities across South Florida: 9:45 a.m., Florida International University, Graham Center Lawn, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami; 11 a.m., Florida Memorial University, Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens. At this event, civil-rights hero and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will join Gillum; 1 p.m. Florida Atlantic University, Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

Assignment editors — Democratic former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe joins local leaders and health care professionals for a news conference to “highlight DeSantis’ refusal to release a health care plan and his record of voting to take health care away from Floridians,” 11:30 a.m., Lions Park, 2550 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Ann Scott offers the softer side of Rick Scott in ad about their marriage” via Scott Powers of Florida Powers — The story is told as the couple sit on a couch, starting with how they met, how he joined the Navy, how she worked full-time as he went to law school, and how they started out living in a home with furnished with sleeping bags, a Coleman cooler, and apple crates. The one-minute ad, “Our story” also shows them engaging in mild marital banter, and ends with video clips of them with their grandsons. “I spotted him across the library,” Ann Scott begins. “Love at first sight,” Rick Scott says. “That’s what he says,” she replies.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

New Bill Nelson ad highlights editorial endorsements — The latest ad from the Nelson for Senate campaign features widespread support Sen. Nelson has received from editorial boards across the state. The ads overreaching theme: Bill Nelson puts Florida first. Always has. Always will. The ad cites one of the endorsements saying, “Nelson’s moderation perfectly reflects his state.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

How many Americans could live under trifecta state governments after the 2018 elections?” via Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew — With most of the nation’s focus on Congressional elections, we wanted to take a moment to dig deeper into trifectas — where one party controls a state governorship and the state legislature … Our elections analysts crunched the numbers looking at possible best-case scenarios … Florida, now a trifecta in which the GOP controls the Governor’s Office and both chambers of the Legislature, is rated “highly vulnerable.” The Governor’s race is listed as a “tossup,” seats that could flip in the Senate are at 4 out of 20 (20 percent), and seats that could flip in the House at 17 out of 120, or 14 percent.

Jimmy Patronis add touts ‘Sunshine’ and fiscal health” via the Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis’ buoyant half-minute spot is full of reassuring images and statements regarding Florida’s economic opportunity and fiscal health. “This sunshine, this weather,” Patronis says, “are not the only reasons people choose to live in Florida. It’s the jobs, the opportunities.” Patronis’ ad spotlights the Mercatus Center ranking Florida as No. 1 in “fiscal health,” as well as reportage from this website noting that state debt has been cut by $10.5 billion in the Rick Scott era. “The weather helps, but our economy is what really makes Florida shine,” the CFO asserts.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Crime victim stories featured in third wave of Marcy’s Law videos — Marsy’s Law for Florida is launching the third set of videos in its social media campaign in support of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, which would provide crime victims and their families with enforceable rights in the Florida Constitution. The videos feature two parents of crime victims sharing their deeply personal stories about the criminal justice system and urging voters to support Amendment 6 to strengthen protections for crime victims and their families without weakening or removing any of the rights currently afforded to those accused or convicted of a crime.

To watch Gail Stewart of Tallahassee, whose son was hit by an impaired driver, click on the image below:

To watch Pat Tuthill of Tallahassee, whose daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered, click on the image below:

Koch network endorses Amendment 11 for ‘fairer’ property rights” via Florida Politics Two Koch network advocacy groups came out Wednesday in support of proposed Amendment 11 to the Florida Constitution, which would ease restrictions on noncitizen ownership of property and promote criminal sentencing reform. The LIBRE Initiative, which seeks to “empower” Hispanics via the free-enterprise system, and Freedom Partners — “dedicated to protecting freedom and expanding opportunity for every American,” according to its website — issued written statements endorsing the measure. IBRE focused on language eliminating the Legislature’s authority to bar “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning, inheriting, buying, or selling property. Freedom Partners, meanwhile, addressed language clarifying the Legislature’s authority to apply criminal sentencing reforms retroactively.

Daily finance reports show Nancy Soderberg building cash lead” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Soderberg has built a sound lead in the money race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, and 48-hour finance reports filed this week show the Democratic nominee continuing to reel in the cash. … Through Wednesday, Soderberg had reported a total of $48,800 raised so far this week. … Soderberg’s opponent, Republican Mike Waltz, filed a trio of financial reports as well, even though his rake in those filings adds up to $10,700. … The reports represent the first finance reports since Soderberg posted a $1 million haul for the third quarter of the year, more than doubling Waltz’ $439,000 third-quarter report. … As of Sept. 30, Soderberg had raised more than $2.5 million for her CD 6 run and had more than $500,000 banked while Waltz’ cumulative total hit $1.67 million with $465,000 banked.

Kristen Carlson piles on cash for final sprint in CD 15” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Carlson added another $79,000 for her campaign to Florida’s 15th Congressional District from the Republican column in November. A pair of 48-hour finance reports uploaded to the Federal Elections Commission this week shows the Democratic nominee to replace U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross reeled in a long list of contribs totaling $70,800. … Her opponent, Republican state Rep. Ross Spano, posted a quartet of 48-hour reports for his campaign, though they combined to $23,500, or about a third of Carlson’s haul for the week so far. … The reports are the first filings since Carlson, a prosecutor and General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus, and Spano posted their financial reports for the third quarter. … CD 15 had been considered a “safe Republican” district by most political handicappers, but in recent weeks it has shifted into “toss-up” territory, with FiveThirtyEight giving Carlson 3-in-7 odds of successfully completing the flip.

‘Scandal is Donna Shalala’s story,’ GOP group saysvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is going after Shalala, attempting to label her as a scandal-ridden candidate. The new ad, titled “Shalala’s Story,” attempts to hit Shalala over several episodes which occurred under her leadership at various organizations. “Scandal is Donna Shalala’s story, and it’s what you expect when she’s in charge,” the ad’s narrator begins. Mike Hernandez, a Shalala spokesperson, dismissed the ad’s claims in a statement for Florida Politics. “The NRCC is using typical (Donald) Trump tactics of digging through discredited information and placing it in an ad,” Hernandez wrote. “It’s money down the drain.”

— DOWN BALLOT —

Florida Retailers recommend bundle of new state lawmakers” via Florida Politics — The Florida Retail Federation PAC, the political arm of the state’s retail trade organization, endorsed more than two dozen candidates seeking to earn their first terms in the state House next month. … “The diversity of these candidates includes some with a direct connection to retail, small business owners, and those new to holding public office, but all are focused on making Florida the most business-friendly state in the nation,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. … The bulk of the 26 candidates getting FRF’s seal of approval are seeking open seats in the state House, but a handful of the recommendations went to would-be state Reps. looking to oust incumbents. … Challengers getting the nod: DeLand Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff in HD 26, Orlando Republican Ben Griffin in HD 49, former Rep. Ray Pilon in HD 72, Miami Republican Rosy Palomino in HD 105 and Miami Republican Anthony Rodriguez in HD 118.

In final ad, Tracye Polson confronts Jacksonville political machine” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The most competitive race in Northeast Florida — the battle in plurality-Democrat House District 15 — continues to be an air war. “When your opponent is a professional lobbyist, special interests can’t wait to falsely attack you,” Polson says in the broadcast spot. Polson, who’s felt compelled to respond to ads from Republican Wyman Duggan and the Republican Party of Florida linking her with flag-burning Resistance drum circle types and socialized health care, reminded voters of her actual biography as a “health professional, not a politician.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Republicans hammer down on Jennifer Webb attack ads” via Janelle Irwin Taylor — The Republican Party of Florida sent out two attack mailers against Webb tying her to special interests that support policies conservatives oppose. The mailers landed in House District 69 voters’ mailboxes this week. “Big business special interests often use government to bully the little guy and Jennifer Webb is a friend of the special interest,” one ad reads. That ad claims Webb’s special interest donors would stop pay increases for teachers, enrich health care corporations at the expense of patients and consumers and raise taxes that would hurt small businesses. The ad offers several citations for its claims. The ad references a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Florida teachers’ union alleging the state’s teacher merit pay law violated employee’s rights to collective bargaining.

— ETERNAL SWING STATE —

Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” is touring the country’s swing states ahead of the Nov. 6 election. 

One of his most obvious stops: Florida.

“It’s America’s swing state for a reason,” Todd said, noting that the electorate is a microcosm of the country’s. 

Red tide: “I go to a gun store, and the first issue I talk to somebody about is about red tide. … In Florida, environmental issues are bigger than red versus blue.” 

Energy: “This seems to be a more engaged electorate than I remember in elections past,” Todd said. The stereotype that Florida voters are apathetic might not apply this year, he added. 

Side note: While in Tampa, Todd also secured an interview with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum for a reaction just hours after news of the subpoenaed records broke. That’s here. 

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Breaking overnight –Tampa man accused of mowing down 3 linemen in Panhandle, killing 2” via Jana Jones of WFLA – Three linemen who were working to restore power in the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael were mowed down last night by a hit-and-run driver from Tampa, deputies say. Two of the linemen died from their injuries. Deputies say 37 year-old John Goedtke hit the three linemen on State Road 77 in Washington County. The crash happened just before 7 p.m. Two linemen died and a third was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition. Deputies say Goedtke ran away from the crash scene, but was spotted by a Chipley police officer and taken into custody.

Gulf Power beats own deadline for turning lights back” on via Florida Politics — The company had returned electric power to 95 percent of its customers in the Hurricane Michael disaster zone by about 30 hours. That required rebuilding “a significant portion” of its grid in Bay County, where the company serves 103,000 customers, including more than 6,800 distribution poles. Following the storm, Gulf Power set a midnight Wednesday deadline. Gulf Power is responsible for getting power into customers’ meter box. Any other equipment at homes or businesses is the customers’ responsibility, and they’ll need to hire licensed electricians to undertake that work. (Details here.) Between 15,000 and 20,000 customers are in that position.

’I cried like a real baby’: Small towns like Two Egg shocked by Michael’s ferocity” via Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat — With the randomness and capriciousness of nature, damage was scattered in this small Jackson County town of a couple hundred people. As the storm’s fury made its way up to North Florida’s coastline and beyond, a long brick house made it through unscathed. The sharp contrast can be seen throughout the small towns and unincorporated communities in the Big Bend, Panhandle and even Georgia, which were impacted by the storm’s far-reaching winds after it wiped out Mexico Beach. Many of tiny Two Egg’s residents are farmers and workers at nearby Chattahoochee disability service center, Sunland. The genesis of the unincorporated community’s name is uncertain, but legend has it that during the Great Depression, residents traded eggs for store items, historian Dale Cox told VISIT FLORIDA.

Small Florida towns like Two Egg were caught off guard by the ferocity of Hurricane Michael. (Image via the Tallahassee Democrat)

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

Michael insurance claims near 100,000” via the News Service of Florida — … with an estimated $1.25 billion in insured losses, according to data posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website. As of Tuesday afternoon, 97,909 claims had been filed. Most of the reported claims, 71,913, involved residential property, with 64,921 of those claims remaining open as of Tuesday. The number of claims has climbed during the past week as recovery efforts continue. As of last Wednesday, for example, 69,950 claims had been filed, with estimated insured losses of $680.7 million.

FSU, FAMU, TCC launch relief efforts to aid Michael victims” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University estimates as many as 15,000 of its students may have been directly impacted by the storm. That number is based on student addresses from affected ZIP codes, university spokesman Dennis Schnittker said. He added the figure includes students who have provided the university with only an off-campus Leon County address. Excluding all Leon County addresses, off and on campus, the figure is more likely 2,500, he said. But that doesn’t discount students whose family members may have lost a home or vehicle or the means to earn a living, for example. “All our students, as well as our faculty, staff and graduate students, who are from the hard-hit areas, potentially have needs ranging from housing to transportation and groceries to basic toiletries,” Sally McRorie, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said. “As we work to help meet the immediate needs of all our FSU family, we are hoping for support from everyone who can contribute.”

José Andrés comes to Florida to feed Michael victims” via Tim Carman of The Washington Post — The chef, restaurateur and humanitarian’s visit to Florida comes just a month after he traveled to North Carolina to help feed residents in the wake of Hurricane Florence and as he’s promoting his new book, We Fed an Island, which details the many trials that Andrés and WCK faced while preparing millions of hot meals for the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Since he arrived on Oct. 14, he has been preparing and delivering meals in Panama City and Mexico Beach … Just as important, Andrés is on the ground, hearing the stories and frustrations of those most affected. He has been using the giant megaphone of his Twitter account (682,000 followers and counting) to ping state and national officials, passing along the people’s most pressing needs.

Airman wife’s hurricane relief effort goes viral” via Jim Thompson of NWFDailyNews.com — The first 980 packages were a surprise for Alicia Barnett. As an Air Force spouse, she was concerned about airmen and families dealing with the near-total destruction of Tyndall Air Force Base. “If that had happened to my family, I would have wanted someone to ask what I needed,” Barnett said. So, as a “Key Spouse” at Eglin Air Force Base — an initiative that supports Air Force families — Barnett began monitoring social media and reaching out to see what Tyndall families needed. Then, using Facebook’s Key Spouse page — Barnett’s husband is Staff Sgt. Benjamin Barnett, an Eglin airfield manager — Barnett got involved with the creation of gift registries at Target and Amazon. She arranged for deliveries to her home, with plans to distribute donations to Tyndall airmen and families in the immediate area. “I was expecting a couple of people to donate,” she said. Then, Barnett got a call from the Post Office. “They said, ‘We have eight pallets for you,’” she said.

Alicia Barnett, an airman’s wife at Eglin Air Force Base, didn’t expect her call for Hurricane Michael relief supplies to go viral. (Image via Northwest Florida Daily News)

Rivals welcome team traveling from storm damage area” via Savannah Vasquez of NWFDailyNews.com — The girls’ volleyball district tournament almost didn’t happen for Blountstown High School, since Hurricane Michael destroyed their gym, along with most of their city. However, thanks to Freeport High School, the Lady Tigers were able to play, and find hope from their competitors. “Volleyball has been a way to return them to normalcy and give them something to not only look forward to but to help deal with what’s happened,” said Blountstown volleyball coach Leigh Ann Summers. “It’s something far bigger than ourselves. It’s for our communities too. We all need to heal and sports can help bring us all together.” Tuesday night’s game at Freeport was a picture of unity. When the Freeport girls lost, they walked across the court to hug their rivals.

— STATEWIDE —

Ted Deutch preaches civility in town hall with voters” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Rep. Deutch talked up the importance of communication and civility Tuesday, while fielding questions from voters across the political spectrum at an event organized by the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club. The speech is part of a monthly series hosted by the group in order to expose members of the community to leaders’ ideas. Tuesday’s event was held at the City Fish Market restaurant in Boca Raton. Deutch never directly mentioned the round of bomb threats targeting lawmakers and others earlier in the day. But intentional or not, his messaging was well trained on toning down the harsh political rhetoric often seen in the country’s current discourse. “That tone isn’t helpful in our communities where we have real problems that we have to discuss with one another, where we do have difference of opinion but we’ve got to respect those differences of opinion if we’re ever going to figure out how to address the significant challenges we have,” Deutch said.

Ted Deutch meets with student leaders of @AMarch4OurLives for hosting Tuesday night’s #TownHallForOurLives. (Image via Twitter)

Parkland shooting parents stymied by fundraising efforts supporting gun control” via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel — “None of us had a grasp of how difficult this would be,” Matt Gohd, the group’s California-based executive director, said. “We needed more resources, more people.” But it just hasn’t happened. The goal was to raise $10 million, trying to land a counterpunch to the influential lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association. The plan was to target politicians who were opposed to gun safety regulations. But the group has only raised $230,000, and a substantial amount of that came shortly after the group was first launched. The group took in less than $30,000 from July through the end of September, and now has only $13,000 left in the bank. “I would say it was idealistic of us to think that we could get something through at this point,” Gohd said.

Department of Education wants funding boost for school safety initiatives — Florida Department of Education put out its legislative budget request for the 2019-20 fiscal year and making its funding wishlist are a slate of budget increases that would amount to a $200 increase in per-pupil funding. Most of the requested raise would help pay for new requirements in the school safety package lawmakers passed earlier this year in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland. Among the boosts it’s seeking from the Legislature: $100 million for school safety, $67.5 million to provide training to armed school personnel, and $10 million for mental health programs. If granted, the budget increase would increase per-pupil funding from $7,407 per student in the current budget year to $7,607 in 2019-20.

Dennis Ross’ latest gig: develop college program in civics, civility” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Ross, the Republican congressman from the 15th Congressional District, joined Southeastern University President Kent Ingle to announce the retiring congressman’s new job … part of a major center for the teaching of government and civics both for students and the general public. Upon his departure from the U.S. House in early January, Ross will join the SEU faculty in his hometown as Distinguished Professor of Political Science launching the American Center for Political Leadership. University officials and Ross said the institution would be a “nonpartisan center dedicated to research, academic programs, courses, workshops and resources that will prepare the next generation of political leaders and passionate citizens who aim to promote traditional American values and individual freedoms.”

Court says minor doesn’t have to turn over iPhone codes” via the News Service of Florida — A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal overturned a decision by a Broward County circuit judge that would have forced the minor to provide passcodes for his phone and an iTunes account. The ruling said the minor was speeding when he was involved in a crash that killed one of his passengers. A blood test at the hospital showed the minor had a .086 blood alcohol level, and another passenger said they had been drinking vodka earlier in the day. Police obtained a warrant to search the driver’s iPhone because the surviving passenger said she had communicated with him through texts and Snapchat. Attorneys for the minor, however, argued that being forced to turn over passcodes would violate his Fifth Amendment right against being required to testify against himself. A trial judge, however, rejected those arguments, in part finding that the passwords were not “testimonial in and of themselves.” But the appeals court overruled the circuit judge.

Red tide claiming Pinellas County jobs, costing businesses” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County beach businesses reported 50 temporary layoffs and nine permanent layoffs associated with loss of business due to red tide. Forty-nine businesses self-reported losses totaling more than $1.5 million. Businesses reported losses through the Florida Damage Assessment program providing relief to businesses affected. Red tide continues to plague almost all of Pinellas County’s Gulf beaches, with conditions improving or worsening based on wind and weather patterns. Businesses affected have several other relief options including interest-free loans through the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan assistance program. Applications for loans up to $50,000 will be taken until Dec. 3. Businesses with two to 100 employees are eligible. Businesses have 180 days to repay the loans.

Assignment editors — Leading medical cannabis provider Surterra Wellness hold an open house to its newest St. Petersburg Wellness Center, the company’s 13th in the state, 10 a.m., 2001 4th St. N., St. Petersburg.

— OPINIONS —

Gillum should speak candidly, release records” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — records raise doubts about Gillum’s previous answers regarding the Hamilton ticket. He consistently said the ticket came from his brother. But the records show Gillum received this text in August 2016 in New York from Corey, which refers to the FBI undercover agent: “Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.’’ Gillum’s reply text: “Awesome news about Hamilton.’’ Voters often forgive mistakes. They are less likely to forgive deceptive explanations. And now Gillum faces the predictable accusation from his Republican opponent, DeSantis, that he lied about the Hamilton ticket. The timing here could not be worse for voters. The election is underway, and they have to choose between Gillum and DeSantis without having a complete picture of what really went on in Tallahassee. Gillum should help by waiving confidentiality on the ethics complaints against him so that all records can be released. If he has nothing to hide as he has claimed for months, that should be an easy call.

Taking stock after Hurricane Michael” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — In some ways, it’s way too early to hang a “mission accomplished” banner in the wake of Hurricane Michael. But we’ve seen a large enough sample size from Leon and surrounding counties, as well as from state government, to say with confidence that this natural disaster didn’t also turn into a political and public relations disaster. The first hurdle cleared was that there was no fussing between state and local governments. A few other observations: This storm has retaught us all is the “regional-ness” of our communities. Insular attitudes have melted away as the horrific pictures from nearby counties have made it back to those less tragically affected. For folks to the west and southwest of Tallahassee, this will be a months, perhaps even yearslong slog. Oh, and we learned one more thing from Hermine to Michael — that’s enough hurricanes for a long, long while!

Martin Horn: Amendment 4 is good criminal justice policy” via Florida Politics — I believe strongly in the rule of law, having served in corrections for more than 40 years, as Executive Director of the New York State Paroling Authority, as Commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and of Probation, and as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections. The rule of law means there must be consequences for our actions, and in our justice system, incarceration plays a role in carrying out those consequences. But what happens after incarceration? Should the consequences of a person’s mistakes follow them for life, even after they’ve served their sentence and paid their debts to society? I believe the answer is no, which is why I’m urging a yes vote on Amendment 4, Florida’s voting restoration amendment. Redemption is at the core of the American experience every bit as much as ‘law and order.’

— MOVEMENTS —

Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors announces two vacancies The Bar’s Board of Governors is seeking applicants for vacancies to be filled during its Feb. 8, 2019, meeting. Its foundation’s Board of Directors needs two lawyers to serve three-year terms, starting July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2022. The 33-member Board of Directors administers Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts program. Directors shall be members of the foundation during their term(s) as directors. Those interested in applying should download the “Application for Special Appointment” here, or call Bar headquarters at 850-561-5667. Completed applications must be received at “Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300” or sent via email to specialapptapp@floridabar.org no later than close of business on Friday, Dec. 7. Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

French Brown, Michael Dobson, Martha Edenfield, Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Lee County Board of County Commissioners

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: The Melo Group

Kenneth Granger, Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: Osceola County

Meghan Hoza, The P5 Group: Shark Allies

Robert Lange, Christopher Turner: Florida Commission on Human Relations

— ALOE —

What Michelle Todd is reading — “Hallmark Channel to celebrate holidays with branded SiriusXM channel” via R. Thomas Umstead of multichannel.com — The 24/7 holiday music channel launches Nov. 1. The Hallmark Channel Radio channel is part of the network’s “Countdown to Christmas” campaign featuring the network’s lineup of holiday-themed movies. SiriusXM’s Hallmark Channel Radio will feature Christmas carols and music introduced by top network talent including LeAnn RimesHolly Robinson PeeteLacey HabertDanica McKellar, and Kellie Pickler.

Disney World’s big secret: It’s a favorite spot to scatter family ashes” via Erich Schwartzel of The Wall Street Journal — No code is kept more under wraps at Walt Disney World and Disneyland than the call for a “HEPA cleanup.” It means that, once again, a park guest has scattered the cremated ashes of a loved one somewhere in the park, and an ultrafine (or “HEPA”) vacuum cleaner is needed to suck them up. Disney custodians say it happens about once a month. Current and former custodians at Disney parks say identifying and vacuuming up human ashes is a signature and secret part of working at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is grisly work for them, but a cathartic release for the bereaved, who say treating Disney parks as a final resting place is the ultimate tribute to ardent fans.

One of the best-kept secrets of Disney World: Identifying and vacuuming up human ashes left by the bereaved families of ardent fans. (Image via the Wall Street Journal)

Hard Rock International named land-based gambling ‘Operator of the Year’ — Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, which owns the Hard Rock International brand, said it “solidified its place as one of the world’s leading casino operators (by) winning Land-Based Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards 2018” in Las Vegas. The news came Wednesday; the awards were presented Oct. 8. “On behalf of our 40,000 employees around the world, we are truly honored to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Jim Allen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hard Rock International. “It validates our commitment to outstanding service and acknowledges our growth strategy in the industry.” The Global Gaming Awards are organized by Gambling Insider and G2E.

#MeToo notes from elsewhere: “Indiana Attorney General won’t be charged in alleged groping” via The Associated Press — A special prosecutor said he will not charge Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill with a crime even though he believes allegations from four women that Hill drunkenly groped them at a party in March. Attorneys for the lawmaker and legislative staffers who accuse Hill said the case isn’t over because they plan to file a civil lawsuit against him. Special prosecutor Daniel Sigler said he considered bringing misdemeanor battery charges against Hill, a Republican. But he said witnesses gave varying accounts of what happened in the crowded Indianapolis bar … “The setting of this lent itself to problems prosecuting,” Sigler said. “It was in a bar. It was in the early morning hours. Free alcohol was being served and flowing.”

VISIT Florida: Experience Stephen King’s “Duma Key” novel in real life — The state’s tourism marketing agency never misses an opportunity for a tie-in (even if the novel is nearly 11 years old). Here’s an excerpt from a recent email: “Duma Key is not real; King, a part-time Sarasota County resident who has owned a house in the region for the past several years, fictionalized the island to suit the story’s purposes. But many of the colorful, tropical sites and settings he mentions in the book are actual shops, restaurants and galleries located in Sarasota and on the nearby keys. And for Duma Key fans who have recently devoured the book, there’s nothing more thrilling than spending a day tracking down some of these sites and checking them out for yourself.” Everybody get a plug! Win-win!

Happy birthday to Eric Conrad and Chuck Urban.

Last Call for 10.24.18 — 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

Pardon us for quoting Mike Fasano, but here’s a win for “the little guy.”

The Miami-Dade School Board has agreed with an administrative law judge who recommended reinstating a school bus driver and with back pay. That was after an unpaid suspension for restraining “a violent student.”

The board’s decision was published online Wednesday. Last Call first reported on the story Aug. 8.

Livingston Wint, a 15-year employee with no prior disciplinary record, “had to reasonably control and restrain a very unruly and disruptive (middle school) student.”

That student had caused “an emergency situation (by) triggering the exit window alarm” while the bus was moving. (The incident happened in October 2017.)

As captured on cellphone video taken by other students, Wint went back to close the window when “the male student … punched (him) in the stomach several times.”

But in then defending himself and others on the bus, the school board initially ruled Wint violated school board policies and ethical standards.

Nope, said Administrative Law Judge Robert L. Kilbride.

The “physical action (Wint) took … was not only authorized but required by (state law).” In fact, “had (Wint) done nothing and allowed the situation to escalate, he would have been accused of ignoring his obligations” under law, the judge wrote.

Evening Reads

In the closing stretch of the 2018 campaign, the question is no longer the size of the Democratic wave. It’s whether there will be a wave at all” via Steve Peoples, Thomas Beaumont and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press

Is the Sun Belt really becoming progressive” via Benjamin Wallace-Wells of The New Yorker

Predatory politics: Using Mako sharks to predict Governor and U.S. Senate races” via Johnny Diaz of the Sun Sentinel

Poll: Bill Nelson holds 4-point lead over Rick Scott in Senate race” via Lisa Hagen of The Hill

Donald Trump expected to headline rally for Ron DeSantis in SW Florida next week” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

DeSantis suggests migrant caravans headed to U.S. border are fronts for drug cartels” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

A few random thoughts on Andrew Gillum’s FBI scandal” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

These early voters don’t appear swayed by news about Gillum’s FBI scandal” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times

George Soros responds to Matt Gaetz” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Nancy Soderberg (is) solid choice” via the Florida Times-Union editorial board

Suspicious package sent to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s district office” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

In a Florida swing district, an ‘inconvenient’ Republican holds on” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times

Matt Isbell is, dangerously, selling fool’s gold about Florida Senate races” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

In final ad, Tracye Polson confronts Jacksonville political machine” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Koch networks endorse Amendment 11 for ‘fairer’ property rights” via the staff of Florida Politics

Rocker Joan Jett cuts star-powered check to Jennifer Webb” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“We are fine thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made its way to our home.” — Hillary Clinton, speaking in Florida today.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The State Board of Education will meet in Citrus County. Among the topics will be the status of “turnaround option” plans for elementary schools in DeSoto and Marion counties. That’s at 9 a.m., Crystal River Middle School, 344 N.E. Crystal St., Crystal River.

Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum will attend ‘Vote Early, Vote Loud’ rallies at universities across South Florida. Early voting in some counties began Monday.

— Florida International University: 9:45 a.m., Graham Center Lawn, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami.

— Florida Memorial University: 11 a.m., Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens. At this event, civil-rights hero and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will join Gillum.

— Florida Atlantic University: 1 p.m., Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

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

Democratic former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will join local leaders and healthcare professionals for a press conference to “highlight Ron DeSantis’ refusal to release a healthcare plan and his record of voting to take healthcare away from Floridians.” That’s at 11:30 a.m., Lions Park, 2550 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers.

Florida State University President John Thrasher, a former lawmaker, is set to deliver this year’s Joe Cresse Ethics in Government Lecture for the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy. He will “offer insights on the conjunction of government and higher education.” That’s at 3 p.m., College of Law rotunda, 308 Martin Luther King Blvd. S., Tallahassee.

Gillum will join fellow Democrats U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for a candidate forum on issues in the Jewish community. He says he “will highlight his commitment to protecting Florida’s relationship with Israel, opposing the BDS movement and providing a safe community for Jewish Floridians.” That’s at 4:30 p.m., Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El, 8200 Peters Road, Plantation.

The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a meeting about projects in Miami-Dade County. That’s at 6 p.m., Trinity Church, 17801 N.W. Second Ave., Miami.

 

 

Last Call for 10.23.18 — 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

With two weeks left before Election Day, President Donald Trump’s approval rating has improved by nearly six points.

That’s according to the latest statewide opinion poll by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI).

From 38.7 percent in last month’s poll, it rose to 44.5 percent in the latest survey. Trump’s disapproval rating fell to 42 percent.

The survey was conducted Oct. 18-21 and polled 704 Florida registered voters who said they are likely to vote. Party breakdown was 37 percent Democrats, 35 percent Republicans and 28 percent Independents.

“The survey was conducted using an online sample supplied by Survey Sampling International using online questionnaires and via an automated telephone platform (IVR) using registered voter lists supplied by Aristotle, Inc.,” the fine print says.

Responses for the entire sample were weighted to reflect the statewide distribution of the Florida population. The survey has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Evening Reads

Roger Stone is running out of options” via Abigail Tracy of Vanity Fair

New polls show Andrew Gillum ahead in governor’s race; Rick Scott and Bill Nelson tied in Senate race” via Dan Sweeny of the Sun Sentinel

Outside spending tops $53 million in U.S. Senate race, boosting Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

TV ad wars intensify in Scott-Nelson Senate race” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Undercover FBI agent got Gillum ‘Hamilton’ tickets, texts show” via Matt Dixon and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

Gillum targeted by new racist robocall” via Ali Vitali of NBC News

After CNN debate, Gillum talks ‘whooping’, Ron DeSantis ‘contrast’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gillum’s vision for America should be every Democrat’s closing argument” via Jay Willis of GQ

Trey Radel-tied ad contains thick lines about Gillum” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

DeSantis wrong on Tallahassee crime rate” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press

The most contested U.S. House races in Florida: Will the Republicans keep their seats — or not?” via Mitch Perry of The Florida Phoenix

Bill Posey, Democratic challenger disagree on just about everything” via Dave Berman of Florida Today

Pro-veterans group hits Lauren Baer over 9/11 comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Jim Bonfiglio files ethics complaint against Mike Caruso in HD 89” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Sheriff candidate Darryl Sheppard’s Facebook page posts fake Trump-endorsement tweets” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel

Judge clears way for challenges to gun law” via the News Service of Florida

Quote of the Day

Shot: “Did y’all see that whooping we put on Ron DeSantis? This brother can’t get off the stage soon enough.” — Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum to supporters in Jacksonville, one day after the CNN gubernatorial debate.

Chaser: “You saw a contrast. I’m a leader. I have a record of service to the country … Andrew’s a career politician. He’s never done anything outside of politics since college.” — DeSantis, in response.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Citrus Commission is expected to discuss an October budget revision and assessment rates. That’s at 9 a.m. Florida Department of Citrus, 605 East Main St., Bartow.

The Re-employment Assistance Appeals Commission will meet at 9:30 a.m., 101 Rhyne Building, 2740 Centerview Dr., Tallahassee.

GOP U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross will help announce plans for a new research, training and advocacy center at Southeastern University. Ross, who decided against seeking re-election this year, will join the university’s faculty and will help lead the center. That’s at 10 a.m., Southeastern University, Buena Vida Auditorium, Lakeland.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is slated to speak to the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., City Fish Market, 7940 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

Republican gubernatorial nominee DeSantis and Democratic candidate Gillum will take part in a televised debate hosted by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association. The debate will be broadcast on television stations in markets across the state and on C-Span and will be on Florida Public Radio. That’s at 7 p.m., Broward College, Bailey Hall, 3501 Davie Road, Davie.

Howard Simon, the longtime executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida who will retire next month, will discuss civil-liberties issues during an event in Miami-Dade County. Also taking part will be Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s national executive director, and Nancy Ancrum, editorial page editor of the Miami Herald. That’s at 7 p.m., The Biltmore Hotel, GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

Tampa Bay Times’ Dan Ruth in ‘semi-retirement’?

Updated Wednesday — Ruth’s valedictory speech, of sorts, ran in the Times. Here’s an excerpt:

“Am I disappointed to have this particular chapter in my life come to a close? You better believe it. But I’m hardly bitter.

“Ten years ago, I was laid off at the slowly imploding Tampa Tribune. I thought then, at 59, not only was my trade vanishing, but my future job prospects were non-existent.

“But the then St. Petersburg Times rescued me … I’m not going entirely away. Starting next month, I will be writing a monthly column for the Op-Ed page.”

The original post is below.

__

As far as we know officially, columnist Daniel Ruth hasn’t left the Tampa Bay Times.

But — of course, there’s a but — after placing a call to him Tuesday at the Times, we were told he no longer works in the newsroom because he’s “semi-retired.”

Seems like news to us.

Ruth

After some digging, one source tells us Ruth told that person that he had, in fact, retired from the daily grind of newspaper journalism.

A second person confirmed that story, but added Ruth will continue to pen one column a month in, yes, semi-retirement.

No matter the exit, Ruth’s departure as a regular presence in the Times is a high-profile loss for Pinellas County’s paper of record.

He shared with Tim Nickens the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for “their diligent campaign that helped reverse a decision to end fluoridation of the water supply for the 700,000 residents of the newspaper’s home county.”

His leaving also comes after news of other recent brain-drain from the Times’ editorial trenches.

Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet will leave after Election Day for another gig still to be announced; former Washington bureau chief Alex Leary already decamped for the Wall Street Journal; and managing editor and 30-year Times veteran Jennifer Orsi took a job managing content at Carillon Tower Advisers, an asset management firm and subsidiary of Raymond James Financial.

Ruth’s impish bio describes him as “scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times.

“He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago.

Ruth also “is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.”

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.23.18

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

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

Less than 12 hours after Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum sparred — and met — for the first time in Sunday’s gubernatorial debate, a new poll of the nationally watched contest found Gillum leading by a point.

While the St. Pete Polls survey didn’t get a bead on how, or if, Sunday’s debate resonated with voters, though it may serve to bring the Gillum campaign back down to earth after a pair of Sunday polls found the Democratic nominee rocketing ahead in the home stretch.

The CNN debate may have brought Andrew Gillum’s campaign down-to-earth.

With that outlier poll from CNN mixed in, RealClearPolitics polling average shows Gillum up just 3.7 percentage points, and with 9 percent undecided DeSantis has plenty of room to catch up.

In other words: Brace for another close one.

St. Pete Polls also found that the Senate race is still looking like a dogfight. Exiting Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are deadlocked as of Oct. 21, with Scott leading by a statistically insignificant three-tenths of a point.

Whether those polls prescient or pyrite remains to be seen, but all other polls have cast the race as one that’ll come down to the wire. And come Tuesday afternoon, when FAU-BEPI pops the poll du jour, the race is likely to move back into “too-close-to-call” territory.

In its only other post-primary poll of the statewide seats, FAU found Scott and Nelson were separated by a point, 42-41 percent, with Gillum and DeSantis registering as a 2-point affair, 41-39 percent.

But Nelson only needs to win by one vote to earn a fourth term, and he’s the odds-on favorite to do just that according to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, which currently gives the longtime lawmaker a two-thirds chance of hanging on despite his expected vote share breaching just 51 percent.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

—@NateSilver538: Democrats have a generic ballot lead of 8.5 or 9 points. Not sure if people realize how large that is. A bit larger than the 1994 and 2010 waves, when the GOP won the popular vote by ~7 points each time. Similar to 2006, when Dems won by 8 but underperformed in swing districts.

@MCIMaps: With multiple polls out, I feel 100% comfortable saying Scott got NO bounce from his Hurricane Michael leadership. This doesn’t surprise me, storm was very regional, and he didn’t get an Irma (2017) bump either. When running for #FLSEN — ideology is trumping all else

@DavidBauerlein: Several national television and print reporters at the rally for Democrats at UNF including the Showtime show “The Circus”

@Ryban1001: National Council for Home Safety and Security’s 2018’s 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America and #Tallahassee isn’t listed. Who is? Florida City Cocoa Belle Glade Lake City Homestead Riviera Beach Daytona Beach, Lake Worth Miami Ft. Pierce

@Fineout: Looks like @treyradel is getting involved in this year’s governor’s race with a radio ad that calls @AndrewGillum a “champion for the people” because he will ban guns, legalize drugs and establish government-run health care. Group behind ad says it will run in Panhandle

@JHendersonTampa: I just got a phone call that started with a recorded voice ordering, “Don’t hang up.” I immediately hung up

@SkipFoster: My eyes are wide open on the trouble FSU is going to have blocking Clemson, but I think the Noles are improving, esp. on defense. I like the under and an FSU cover — something like 28-16 Clemson.

@BrechtHeuchan: On Twitter/news seems like world is on fire, ppl mean to ea other. But when you go out, there is a diff reality. Our church gathered tons of supplies, loaded some into the bus & dropped in Marianna. Can’t describe what I saw, devastation yes — but kindness & humanity more.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Monday marked the beginning of Early Voting for many counties in Florida, but with the first day in the bag just 1,958 votes were added to the state’s election tracker.

With massive counties such as Miami-Dade and Palm Beach among those opening up for early voting on Monday, it’s likely there’s scores of ballots waiting to be added in to the total on Tuesday.

Of the few EV ballots reported, 1,811 of them came from Okaloosa County, while 146 hailed from Charlotte County and one solitary vote came from Palm Beach County. GOP voters make up more than 70 percent of the miniscule EV sample one after Day 1.

Mail ballots came in at an equally slow drip. As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 924,000 ballots had completed their round trips and were back in the hands of county supervisors of election. Many expected Monday to push the VBM tally into the seven figures, however, only about 12,000 more ballots were returned during the 24-hour interregnum. So, 935,633 it is.

Thanks to the slow day, Election 2018 currently features nearly the same partisan divide, give or take a few tenths of a percent, as it did on Sunday and the day before.

Republicans have cast a combined 412,963 ballots and make up 44 percent of the whole. Democrats have turned in 358,922 ballots and have a 38 percent share. And NPA and other-party voters have sent out or shown up to mark 165,706 ballots, accounting for just under 18 percent of the total.

A final noteworthy tidbit: Liberty County made the scoreboard on Monday after turning in its first batch of mail ballots. Heading into Tuesday, only Gulf and Hendry counties were still showing zeroes across the board.

Story you won’t read in Sunburn: “25% of millennials say they have PTSD from the 2016 election, study says — psychologist available.

— TOP STORY —

Joe Biden’s descent on the Sunshine State drew thousand-plus crowds in Tampa and Jacksonville on Monday as he rallied alongside Gillum, Nelson and other Democrats. 

But Biden could be doing as much for himself as he is for his party’s candidates in Florida; he’s undoubtedly energizing voters to back Democrats Gillum and Nelson, but also finding friends in the Sunshine State as he explores a potential presidential bid in 2020. 

And he’s not the only one. There’s an emerging trend of other presidential potentials making headlines in Florida this cycle. Among them: Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. 

Joe Biden wows the crowd in Tampa.

In Tampa: Biden’s midterm message was that the election is larger than life. “This election is bigger than politics. For real. This goes well beyond,” the Delaware Democrat told the crowd, according to Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times. 

In Jax: The message was the same. But in the Bold City, a brief “run Joe run” chant broke out. 

‘Wasting time’: That’s how the Republican National Committee described Biden’s cameos. “While Biden was attempting to gin up support for an unhinged Democratic Party, Republicans were rallying behind our proven Republican leaders who have fought hard to get Floridians back to work,” RNC spokesperson Joe Jackson said.

Assignment editors Biden will headline a public ‘Winning Ticket Rally’ in Orlando joined by congressional members Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings, Cpt. Mark Kelly, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and other Democratic candidates: pre-press set 1:30 p.m., doors open 2:30 p.m., preprogram 3 p.m., main program 3:45 p.m., Cheyenne Saloon, 128 W. Church St., Orlando.

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Morning must-read (trust us, this will be driving the day)Actually, yes, Andrew Gillum signed a Dream Defenders pledge” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Ron DeSantis backs out of meeting with USA TODAY Network” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — A spokesman for the campaign informed the Democrat this morning DeSantis would not be attending the hourlong meeting in Tallahassee. The campaign said a statement would be forthcoming, but by late afternoon nothing was sent. DeSantis had agreed last week to the hourlong discussion with editors and readers of the six newspapers that make up the USA TODAY Network-Florida. Gillum will meet with the editors next week, Oct. 31. The discussion will be broadcast on Facebook Live.

Hillary Clinton in private fundraisers with Andrew Gillum in Manalapan, Miami” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Clinton will be in Manalapan for a daytime reception with Gillum, then appear at a Miami dinner for Gillum’s Forward Florida PAC with tickets ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for “premium seating,” according to an invitation. The Manalapan fundraiser is at the home of major Democratic donors Marsha and Henry Laufer, who also hosted a fundraiser for Clinton in April 2016 as she pursued the Democratic presidential nomination against Bernie Sanders. For the Clinton-Gillum event, admission ranges from $250 “friend” tickets to $5,000 for a private lunch. The Miami event is hosted by former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, one of Gillum’s rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and veteran Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge.

Florida Conservation Voters support Gillum with nearly $500K digital buy — Florida Conservation Voters Action Fund is committing to a nearly $500,000 digital advertising effort to elect Gillum as Governor. FCV has endorsed Gillum as the only candidate who will fight for clean water and climate action to prevent algae blooms and lessen the impact of red tide events that hurt Florida’s economy. The fund will run digital ads across multiple platforms, focusing on the current red tide crisis and the need to fight climate change.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Running mates may add heft on health care” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — When it comes to the nuts and bolts of providing access to coverage, it may be running mates who have a deeper knowledge of the industry and the ripple effects that potential changes could have across the state. DeSantis, who has sharply criticized the federal Affordable Care Act and government-provided health care, tapped as his running mate state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, a Miami Republican whose income comes in part from a public hospital that relies heavily on Medicaid. Gillum, meanwhile, chose as his running mate Winter Park businessman Chris King, who spelled out a detailed health care proposal while running unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for governor. King has shied away from discussing the concept known as “Medicare for all,” which Gillum embraced in the primary. Health care has become a major issue in the race for governor and in numerous other races. A key part of that issue is the role of government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, should play in the health care system.

Assignment editors — DeSantis will campaign tomorrow in Jacksonville, and Miami: 8:30 a.m., announcement by regional Sheriffs, Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, 300 a Philip Randolph Boulevard, Jacksonville; 1:30 p.m., pastors outreach event, Church at the Cross, 700 Good Homes Road Orlando; 4 p.m., Jewish Unity event, Mo’s Bagels, 2780 NE. 187th St., Miami.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Bill Nelson racks up another polling win, Rick Scott camp pushes back with own numbers” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Nelson is holding onto a 6-point lead over Scott, according to new numbers released Monday by Quinnipiac University. Nelson has held slight leads in five of the last six polls. Each time Scott’s camp has publicly scoffed, but the new numbers prompted them to release numbers conducted by their pollster showing Scott up 51-46. Quinnipiac has long shown Nelson with a lead among voters who have no major party affiliation. That lead has now grown to more than 20 percentage points, which if it were to hold, would make the three-term Democratic senator very difficult to knock off. While Nelson holds substantial leads among those key demographics, Scott holds a 54-44 lead with men, and a 53-44 lead with white voters, both key voting blocs for Republicans. Nelson leads 94-3 with black voters and 59-39 with Hispanic voters. The poll released by the Scott campaign, which was conducted by Virginia-based OnMessage, was compiled between Oct. 14-18. It had a sample size of 2,200, leaning Republican by 1 percentage point. It had a margin of error of 2 percent.

Scott internal poll has him leading Nelson” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new internal poll released by the Scott campaign shows the Republican ahead by 5 percentage points in the race for U.S. Senate. That’s in disagreement with a pair of independent polls released Monday, which show the candidates either deadlocked or with Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson in the lead. The Scott survey was conducted by OnMessage Inc. and consisted of 2,200 likely voters. It showed Scott earning 51 percent support with Nelson nabbing 46 percent, leaving 3 percent undecided. The margin of error was just over 2 percent. The 5-point margin for Scott does match his lead in polls taken from May through mid-August, most of which appeared to show Nelson was in trouble of losing his Senate seat. However, Nelson’s fortunes have turned around in recent months according to outside pollsters. FiveThirtyEight now gives him about a 2 in 3 chance of beating back Scott’s challenge.

Scott rolls out Spanish-language ad — “Fight for You” is a new Spanish-language highlighting Scott’s continued commitment to Puerto Rico and his work supporting the island territory following Hurricane Maria. The 30-second spot also blasts Nelson for failing to stand up for Puerto Rico, choosing politics above people: “Bill Nelson: Weak. Confronts no one and only shows up on election time.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott defends education spending in latest ad” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, per a campaign media release, is “highlighting Senator Nelson’s false attack on Governor Scott’s historic funding for Florida’s education system.” “Time and time again, Senator Nelson has been confused about the reality of Florida’s education accomplishments over the past eight years,” the media release asserts, citing spending more dollars on education and per-pupil funding, assertions that have been disputed. The script mirrors that perspective: “Under Rick Scott, Florida has its biggest education budget in history, more spending per pupil than ever before … After 40 years on Washington, Bill Nelson in confused about what’s happening in Florida.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

ICYMI from last night’s “Last Call” newsletter — A proposed constitutional amendment to increase the homestead property tax exemption is failing, according to results of a new poll. A survey by St. Pete Polls shows that nearly 49 percent of voters asked said they had already voted for it or planned to. Amendments need no less than 60 percent approval, however, to be added to the state constitution. Another 35 percent said they voted against it or planned to, and another 16 percent still hadn’t decided how or if they would vote on what’s “Amendment 1” on the statewide ballot.

Amendment 3 backers spend heavily on direct mail” via the News Service of Florida — Voters In Charge, a political committee behind the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot, spent $483,720 on direct mail from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, according to a newly filed finance report. The payments, which went to the West Palm Beach firm Cornerstone Solutions Florida, made up almost all of the $488,813 that Voters In Charge spent during the period. Voters in Charge, which has been heavily funded by Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is backing an amendment that would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

Voters in charge are leaning heavier on mail pieces to get the word out about casino gambling in Florida.

Voter restoration amendment spends another $1.8M on ads” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The committee sponsoring the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” which would restore voting rights to Florida felons who have completed their sentences, spent more than $1.8 million of its reserves pushing the proposal on the airwaves, online and via direct mail between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12. … Topping the ledger was a $1 million media buy through Screen Strategies Media, followed by a $400,000 digital ad buy through Mercury Public Affairs and another $400,000 payment for direct mailers from Mission Control. … The spending was augmented by a $112,000 “in-kind” contribution from ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, which bought another round of digital ads. … Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals with the only carveouts being felons convicted of sex offenses or murder. Constitutional amendments must earn 60 percent of the vote to pass.

Another ugly Florida campaign — over dog racing” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — A bitter Florida campaign featuring charges of lying, dirty tricks and bad faith is nearing an end. But this isn’t the battle for governor or Senate: It’s a ballot question that would ban greyhound racing in Florida, one of the industry’s last bastions. The fight over Florida’s Prop 13 has been rife with drama, punctuated earlier this month by a state government decision to shut down public tours of kennels — a loss for greyhound racing advocates who were looking to disprove the allegations of animal cruelty that critics have thrown at them. Backers of the ban have promoted the amendment with hours of race video capturing dog deaths and countless photos of injuries and mistreatment. The ballot question fight has left the industry’s nerves raw amid the increased scrutiny from animal rights groups.

Dog racing is bringing out the worst in Florida politics.

Pam Bondi backs Gus Bilirakis — Attorney General Bondi officially endorsed U.S. Rep. Bilirakis for re-election in Florida’s 12th Congressional District, citing the Tarpon Springs Republican’s commitment to fighting opioid abuse. “Gus Bilirakis has consistently been a good partner when it comes to protecting Floridians, especially on the issue of combating opioid abuse,” Bondi said in a statement. “For example, Gus understood how important Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs were in the fight to shut down pill mills and he worked across the aisle to help secure federal funding for them. His record of service and proven leadership is clear to anyone who has had the privilege of working with him. Whenever we need his assistance on any issue, Gus is always there for us.”

Kristen Carlson, DCCC spend big on CD 15 advertising — Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson joined up with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to buy another $825,000 worth of ads in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, where she faces Republican state Rep. Ross Spano… Carlson’s campaign account was the source of $455,000 of the TV buys, with $361,000 of that spending heading to broadcast ads in the Tampa Bay media market and another $95,000 or so heading to cable buys set to run from Oct. 23 through Oct. 29. The DCCC ad spending totaled $370,589, with their ads set to air on cable channels starting tomorrow and running through Election Day. … Spano and the National Republican Congressional Committee are putting down some cash for ads, but not nearly as much as Carlson & Co. The pro-Spano buys totaled $127,000, with $76,000 heading to cable and $51,000 going toward broadcast. … Carlson and the DCCC have spent a combined $1.5 million on CD 15 ads this cycle, while Spano and the NRSC have spent less than $300,000.

Here are a couple of fun reads …

Paid time off to vote is on the rise, survey says” via Steven Melendez of FastCompany — About 44% of U.S. companies will do so, up from 37% last year, meaning that the majority of companies still don’t provide such a provision, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management. Some businesses have also instituted no-meeting policies for Election Day, hoping to clear up employee schedules, and some have added on-site registration to make sure their employees are actually eligible to vote.

Twitter, Lyft, Bumble and Tinder: How tech and social media companies may change the election this year” via Cat Hofacker of USA TODAY — Tech companies and social media platforms have unveiled initiatives to encourage their users to show up at the polls. Just under 70 percent of Americans use some form of social media, according to the Pew Research Center. With userbases numbering in the millions — and often billions — social networking platforms have the ability to reach voters on a massive scale. This year, many tech companies zeroed in on voter registration. Last month, for National Voter Registration Day, organizations flooded their social media accounts with messages promoting registration and information about the various state deadlines. While voter registration is the first step for many companies, others like Lyft are taking it a step further. The transportation company has made headlines with its “Ride the Vote” campaign, which offers half-price rides on Election Day and connects voters to their nearest polling place.

— DOWN BALLOT —

State campaign committee rakes and money” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee received about $2.3 million from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, with the money funneled from other political committees. The Committee, which is chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano is not required to file a finance report until Nov. 2. But reports filed by other committees for the period from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12 are included in the state database. They indicate the Galvano-led committee received contributions such as $750,000 from Treasure Florida, a committee tied to state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; $500,000 from Jobs for Florida, a committee led by Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson; and $300,000 from Working for Florida’s Families, a committee led by Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley.

Dana Young trounces Janet Cruz in fundraising” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Young has raised nearly $1 million for her re-election bid against Democrat Cruz. Not included in that figure is another $580,000 in in-kind contributions from the Florida Senatorial Campaign Committee. Cruz had $358,000 with $160,000 more in in-kind contributions. Her fundraising haul so far also includes $60,000 in carry-over funds from her House campaign account. That puts Young way out ahead in campaign cash in what is shaping up to be one of the state’s most competitive Senate races. Young’s campaign raised $56,000 from Oct. 6-12, with $41,000 of that coming through in-kind contributions. (They’re defined as “anything of value except money made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election.”)

Lindsay Cross ad: ‘Put a scientist in the Senate’” via Janelle when Taylor of Florida Politics — Cross is running against incumbent Jeff Brandes for the Senate District 24 seat covering parts of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and St. Pete Beach. “As executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor, I fought for our water supply and our environment. Now I’m ready to fight for you to make sure we have great public schools, access to affordable health care a clean environment and a strong economy because what we don’t need is more red tide and empty promises,” the 30-second ad says. It ends with Cross’s catchphrase: “It’s time to put a scientist in the Senate.” The Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a website and accompanying television ad blasting Cross for her “radical progressive agenda” and tying her to U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum. The website and ad, which have the same imagery, say the “radicals” support open borders, higher taxes and government-run health care.

To view that ad, click on the image below:

Jennifer Webb wants false attack ad removed from the airwaves” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The ad condemns Webb for taking contributions from special interest groups, political insiders and lobbyists, but was chock full of inaccuracies and falsehoods. Webb asked her opponent, Ray Blacklidge, to petition the group behind the ad to remove it from the airwaves. In response, Blacklidge posted on his campaign Facebook page a public denouncement of negative advertising by third parties. “District 69 voters are looking for candidates with a positive vision for our region and effective solutions for the challenges we face. They have had enough of political games and immature attack ads from third parties, and so have I. All third-party political attacks should stop now,” Blacklidge wrote last week. In a disclaimer at the end of the ad, Citizens for Florida Prosperity Political Committee took responsibility for the ad. But when the Webb campaign reached out to Spectrum, they said the Republican Party paid for the ad.

Happening tonight — Democratic candidate Webb hosts the final fundraiser in her campaign for House District 66, featuring special guests Congressman Charlie Crist, County Commissioners Janet LongCharlie Justice and Ken Welch, St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson, Vice-Mayor Dave Wells, commissioners Fred SteiermanKeith Overton and Tim Bogott among others, 5:30 TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach.

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Hurricane Michael killed at least 29 in Florida, 39 total” via The Associated Press — Florida Emergency Management Division spokesman Alberto Moscoso says the state toll stood at 29 on Monday afternoon. Ten deaths have been reported in other states. The latest update in Florida adds four deaths from the hardest-hit coastal Bay County, bringing the total there to 19. Gulf County had 3 deaths, Gadsden and Jackson counties each had two deaths, and Clay, Liberty and Calhoun counties each had one death. State emergency management officials tally storm-related deaths based on rulings from district medical examiners.

After hurricane, Ken Detzner sends reminder on early voting” via Florida Politics — Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s chief elections officer, sent out a reminder Monday on early voting options for the Nov. 6 general election … Gov. Scott issued an executive order that gives Supervisors of Elections in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington counties the authority to extend the number of days for early voting and designate additional early voting locations … “All 67 counties will offer early voting from Oct. 27-Nov. 3 at designated early voting sites,” Detzner said. “Some counties may offer additional days of early voting and counties severely impacted by Hurricane Michael have more flexibility in providing early voting and vote-by-mail options to their voters.”

Gov. Rick Scott and CFO Jimmy Patronis met with emergency management personnel at the Liberty County EOC on Monday.

Judge rejects second lawsuit on registration deadline” via the News Service of Florida — U. S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a two-page order denying a preliminary injunction sought by the groups Common Cause, New Majority Florida Education Fund and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. The groups and the Florida Democratic Party filed separate lawsuits this month that sought to give Floridians an extra week to register to vote because of Hurricane Michael. Both cases sought an extension until Oct. 16 because of concerns that the hurricane could prevent people from registering to vote.

Toll collections resume after Michael” via the News Service of Florida — Tolls had been suspended on the Mid-Bay Bridge and Spence Parkway in Okaloosa County, Garcon Point Bridge in Santa Rosa County, Bob Sikes Toll Bridge in Escambia County and the Orchard Pond Parkway in Leon County. Gov. Scott ordered the suspension Oct. 8, two days before Michael made landfall in Bay County and caused massive damage in parts of Northwest Florida. Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Yu said in an email that “in counties unaffected by Hurricane Michael, tolling authorities were given the authority to resume tolls as early as Friday evening.”

Marco Rubio highlights need to restore fighter jets at Tyndall” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Several expensive fighter jets stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base were sheltered on site instead of being moved to a different location while Hurricane Michael crept toward Florida’s Panhandle. That’s cause for concern to Republican U.S. Sen. Rubio, who noted that at least 17 of the 55 F-22 Raptors at the Panama City facility — almost one third — were designated Non-Mission Capable, or NMC, and consequently unable to be relocated ahead of the storm. “While the damage assessment of these remaining aircraft is still underway, the facts are clear that any damage sustained could have been avoided if the NMC rate for the F-22 was lower,” Rubio wrote in a Monday letter addressed to Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force.

Widespread destruction is left behind in the wake of Hurricane Michael at Tyndall Airforce Base. (Image via USA TODAY)

After Michael, Panama City residents cope with no power, cash-only transactions and baby-wipe showers” via Frances Stead Sellers, Kevin Begos and Katie Zezima of The Washington Post — Residents are now carving out new, unfamiliar existences amid the destruction, driven by the dictates of survival and loss of the staples of modern life. Some are devising fresh ways of doing former jobs. Others are seeking entirely new employment, often facing competition from outsiders looking to take advantage of the repair work that follows a disaster. And everyone is adapting to a society where credit cards and cellphones often don’t work. The recovery has transformed their surroundings into a giant construction site, where the whine of sirens joins the constant buzz of chainsaws and the clanks of heavy equipment. Traffic crawls. A week without infrastructure is testing even those who prepared for the storm and its aftermath.

Final flight into Michael captured rare storm data” via Tristram Korten of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting — Michael developed quickly over unseasonably warm water, allowing it to continue intensifying right up to landfall, which is very rare. Also rare, perhaps unprecedented, is for a Hurricane Hunter mission to follow a hurricane to its landfall, which this one did. The data recorded from this flight is invaluable, according to climate scientists, because how hurricanes intensify so rapidly, as Michael did, is not well understood. “The data from that flight is going to be studied and debated and delved into very deeply for a decade,” said Ryan Truchelut, a meteorologist with the private forecasting service WeatherTiger. These missions are more critical now because of global warming’s impact. As Michael intensified, water temperatures in the Gulf measured 83 to 84 degrees, three to four degrees warmer than average for this time of year. Warm water is hurricane fuel. The warmer the water, the faster storms grow.

Lt. Col. Sean Cross of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron pilots the plane into the eye of Hurricane Michael on October 10. (Image via Tristram Korten.)

Could Michael extinguish Apalachicola’s struggling oyster industry?” via Andrew Yawn of the Pensacola News-Journal — The most violent storm in the history of the Panhandle shifted limestone bricks like Jenga blocks and toppled entire walls. Light bulbs were filled with water by the 9-foot storm surge and 155 mph winds — the fourth strongest in history by a U.S. hurricane — tossed oyster boats 500 yards and across the highway. In the past decade, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, over-harvesting and a battle for fresh water with up-the-stream Atlanta — dubbed the “water wars” — have reduced the once-booming oyster industry to a shell of its former self. Many felt the oysters would one day come back if given proper time, and millions of dollars have been spent rebuilding the bay in the past three years. After this latest storm, however, optimism for the bivalve’s return to prominence is in short supply among current and former oystermen, even if hope isn’t.

Paying it forward: Florida man joins mission to help hurricane victims” via Eileen Kelly of the Florida Times-Union — Tyler Gay had been on vacation in Philadelphia with his girlfriend and her family as many Panhandle residents were packing up and dodging Hurricane Michael’s path. At the airport, Gay learned his connecting flight back to Tallahassee was canceled. So he flew to the Panhandle, the place where he grew up. He had no idea of the approaching storm. He said he got distracted by his vacation and wasn’t paying attention to the news. When he learned of the hurricane’s path, Gay and his family got a few sandbags, bolted a piece of plywood to the front window of his brother’s townhouse and pulled the couches close together in the family room. And they waited. After the storm, Gay went back to Tallahassee but only long enough to collect money, sending an email to about 100 colleagues about the devastation in his hometown and how he was going back to help. The information technology worker borrowed a pickup and filled it with medical supplies, soup, water, apples, chips, sandwiches, military MREs and tarps. Gay picked up a chainsaw, a hatchet, and gasoline and set out on a mission.

FSU Panama City campus to reopen next week” via the News Service of Florida — The university said in a news release that it has made “significant progress” in repairing damage from Hurricane Michael. The campus is tentatively scheduled to reopen Oct. 29. “Repairing and reopening the Panama City campus is a critical step,” university President John Thrasher said in a prepared statement. “But the toughest part is, and will continue to be, helping the members of our FSU family impacted by the storm get back to life as normal. For a great number of our students and employees, especially those in Panama City and the surrounding areas, life as normal is still a long way off. We’re doing everything we can to help them get back to what will inevitably be a new normal.”

— TWEET, TWEET —

— STATEWIDE —

Study: Puerto Ricans in Florida after storm below 50,000” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — A new study released this month by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research suggests that between 30,000 and 50,000 islanders settled in Florida in the past year. Researchers reached this estimate by comparing passenger flight data between Puerto Rico and Florida with migration data from the U.S. Census. Earlier estimates from the University of Florida and from Hunter College had put the number above 50,000 people. The new study says there appeared to be large flows of Puerto Ricans to Florida in the immediate months after Maria made landfall in September 2017. But flight data also suggest there was a strong return flow in January, followed by smaller flows back to the island in subsequent months.

Rick Scott denied state played a role in FIU bridge collapse. Records indicate otherwise.” via the Miami Herald — The governor’s administration has said its role in the Florida International University bridge was limited to issuing traffic permits, conducting a “routine preliminary review” and acting as a “pass-through” for federal funding. It also said an FDOT engineer was unable to listen to a voice message describing cracks that were forming at the structure’s north end because he was out of the office on assignment. The message was left by one of the bridge’s private contractors two days before the newly built span fell onto Southwest Eighth Street, killing six people. In fact, the FDOT engineer, Thomas Andres, was present in the office on March 15. And nearly two years before the collapse, that same engineer expressed concerns in writing to the bridge’s design-build team that its design left it vulnerable to cracking. Andres’ deep familiarity with the plans suggests the state played a far more significant role than it has so far acknowledged.

Workforce quality tops small biz agenda in Florida Chamber survey” via Florida Politics — Florida’s small businesses are most concerned about the quality of the state’s workforce as voters prepare to pick their next Governor Nov. 6, according to survey results released Monday. At the same time, the Chamber issued a guide showing that Republican DeSantis ticks every box on the organization’s issues checklist. Democrat Gillum doesn’t check any. It was the eighth quarter running that workforce skills ranked as small business’ top concern. And it led by a considerable margin — 26 percent, compared to the next ranked concern, government regulations, at 9 percent. Access to capital and economic uncertainty tied, at 8 percent each; followed by “lawsuit abuse,” taxes, and health care costs, all at 6 percent. Confidence in the state’s direction was up compared to the third quarter, to 59 percent. Some 48 percent of respondents expected to hire in the next six months, up from 45 percent last quarter. Forty-three percent expected to invest in plants or equipment, down from 49 percent one year ago.

Tort reform group slams Florida for ‘excessive’ litigation” via Florida Politics — The state loses more than $11.8 billion and 126,000 jobs each year to “excessive” litigation, according to an analysis released Monday by the Florida Justice Reform Institute. The trend most hurts the retail sector, at the cost of more than 39,413 jobs, followed by business services, at 20,237, and health services, at 17,452, according to research conducted for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, another tort reform organization. The analysis claims more than $7.5 billion in lost personal income, including wages, interest and rents — more than $357 for every person in Florida. Additionally, such litigation trims almost $615 million from annual state revenues and $516 million for local government. “These findings detail how Florida’s lawsuit abuse climate is holding back our economy and costing every person real money,” institute President William Large said.

Michael Dunn resigns from Lakeland City Commission” via John Chambliss of the Lakeland Ledger — Dunn has resigned four days after he was charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting an alleged shoplifter. Dunn, 47, had been a commissioner since January after defeating challenger Larry Durrence in a runoff election. Dunn was indicted by a grand jury on Friday for killing Christobal Lopez, 50, on Oct. 3 at his business, the Vets Army Navy Surplus Store at 819 N. Florida Ave. “It is with a heavy heart that I submit this letter to you,” Dunn wrote. His wife delivered the letter to City Hall on Monday afternoon. “Being born and raised in Lakeland, this city means a great deal to me and always will,” Dunn wrote. “Thank you to the residents of Lakeland for having given me the opportunity to serve.”

Rural boundary segregates races in Seminole, River Cross developer’s lawsuit claims” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Former state legislator Chris Dorworth, whose company proposed building 600 single-family homes and 500 apartments in rural east Seminole County, has sued the county in federal court, saying its voter-approved rural boundary and county commissioners’ refusal to rezone 670 acres for the River Cross mega-development violate the Fair Housing Act. The lawsuit claims the boundary has “a clear and negative disparate impact on racial minorities … denying them their rights to housing.” “Seminole County’s actions perpetuate a history of residential racial segregation in Seminole County …” by limiting development, according to the lawsuit, which asks U.S. District Judge Anne Conway to order the county to get rid of the rural boundary, established in 2004 through a vote of residents.

Bidder steps up to purchase CareSync’s assets from liquidation” via Veronica Brezina-Smith of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Nashville, Tennessee-based Vatica Health Inc., a health care technology solutions provider, is the stalking horse bidder and has offered $1 million for the assets of CareSync, which filed for an assignment for benefit of creditors in July to liquidate its assets. Vatica, if approved and being the best bidder, would obtain CareSync’s online health platform, related intellectual property, data and documentation, and certain accounts receivable, according to county documents. Joseph Luzinski, the assignee for the benefit of creditors of CareSync, filed an emergency motion with the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court for Hillsborough County Oct. 16 to approve the bidding and sales procedure and authorize the sale of purchased assets to Vatica Health, subject to higher and better offers. The court hearing is scheduled for early Oct. 23.

What Gray Rohrer is reading: “A 14-year-long oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico verges on becoming one of the worst in U.S. history” via Darryl Fears of The Washington Post — Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever. As oil continues to spoil the Gulf, the Trump administration is proposing the largest expansion of leases for the oil and gas industry, with the potential to open nearly the entire outer continental shelf to offshore drilling. That includes the Atlantic coast, where drilling hasn’t happened in more than a half-century and where hurricanes hit with double the regularity of the Gulf.

Pasco to promote itself as Florida’s Sports Coast” via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Visit Pasco, the county’s tourism agency, is poised to rebrand Pasco as Florida’s Sports Coast to capitalize on its sports facilities, outdoor adventure offerings and water activities along the coast. “Our goal is to find things that are most relevant about Pasco County and the things that are most different about Pasco County and package that to draw tourists,’’ said Andy Jorishie, managing director of the Zimmerman Agency in Tallahassee, which is leading the rebranding effort for $45,000 as part of a $326,000 contract with the county. The agency briefed the Tourist Development Council, and the full county commission is expected to consider the branding and marketing plan next week.

— OPINIONS —

Blake Dowling: Reflections on the storm” via Florida Politics — Why is the national news not covering this issue like they have superstorms in years past? There are people who have run out of money, died in the storm, looting is happening, and in our community, it seems as if everyone I know helped in some way. But it doesn’t feel like that from the outside. And when I say outside, I mean the media. If you want to see what help looks like, come to Tallahassee. It’s ground zero for the recovery effort. It was a terrible storm. Lives have been lost; homes and businesses destroyed. If you want to help, consider giving to the Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or contact your local elected official or law enforcement office as there are massive recovery efforts underway and North Florida needs a helping hand. Prayers to all affected and to all those who have answered the call to help.

Joe Henderson: No tax for tracks, or anything else in Hillsborough” via Florida Politics — No tax for tracks. No tax for anything. What else is new? The grumpy demographic in Hillsborough County has weighed in on the All For Transportation referendum and guess what? They’re agin’ it! I know you’re shocked … It was predictable. It was adorned with a picture of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. Both men heavily support the referendum, so they were trolled with the label of Bob “Billions” Buckhorn and Jeff “Vision” Vinik. Ouch. That hurts. They didn’t mention the more than 77,000 people who signed petitions to get this issue on the ballot because a majority of the county commissioners couldn’t bring themselves to do it themselves.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Andrew Atterbury joins POLITICO Florida — Tallahassee bureau chief Matt Dixon announced Atterbury’s hiring Monday on Twitter. He replaces Daniel Ducassi as the site’s education policy reporter. Atterbury was most recently education reporter for TCPalm, covering the Treasure Coast counties of Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River. He previously covered education and city politics in West Texas. Atterbury graduated Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas in 2012. He also spent 5 ½ years as a Starbucks barista, according to his LinkedIn page.

Congratulations to Andrew Atterbury.

Gunster adds another attorney amid Tampa growth — The full-service business law firm added Jounice Nealy-Brown to its business litigation practice as an associate in the firm’s Tampa office. Nealy-Brown previously was a newspaper journalist, sales and marketing executive, and strategic corporate communications director at the Tampa Bay Times. Upon graduation from law school, she served as a law clerk for Judges Anthony E. Porcelli and Mary S. Scriven, both with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. “We are thrilled to have Jounice join our growing team in Tampa,” Tampa office managing shareholder Bill Schifino said. “Her experience both in journalism and the corporate sector brings a unique perspective to the firm and how she will work with clients.”

— ALOE —

Disney roller coaster patent hints at Epcot ride” via the Orlando Business Journal — The patent would help with the storytelling process in rides. A new patent from The Walt Disney Co. has many fans curious if it’s for the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride at Epcot. The patent appears to provide an enhancement to the coaster ride car that includes being able to rotate a car on a horizontal axis while also providing the power the system needs to perform those turns throughout the ride. Of course, there’s no guarantee that this patent is used on rides. However, it gives insight into what ride inventors are researching toward making better attractions.

New plans filed by Walt Disney World for an Epcot rollercoaster lead some to think it may be the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

Florida retailers expect scary good Halloween spending” via Florida Politics — According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, an affiliate of the Florida Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend some frighteningly large sums celebrating the eve of All-Hallows — nearly enough to crack the all-time record of $9.1 billion. NRF estimates the average consumer taking part in Halloween to spend more than four Jacksons and a five-spot, which would make for a nationwide rake of $9 billion at the cash register. And FRF head R. Scott Shalley said the Sunshine State is expected to post similarly strong results.

Uber ambitiously eyes 2021 for food-delivery drones launch” via Greg Bensinger and Andy Pasztor of The Wall Street Journal — The San Francisco company is seeking an operations executive who can help make delivery drones functional as soon as next year and commercially operational in multiple markets by 2021, according to a job posting that appeared on Uber’s website. App-reliant Uber has limited experience developing hardware beyond its nascent electric scooters and its equipment for self-driving vehicles, an as-yet unproven technology. The drone executive will “enable safe, legal, efficient and scalable flight operations,” according to the job listing, which refers to UberExpress, an internal name used for the drone delivery operation within its UberEats prepared-food delivery unit.

What Kevin Sweeny is reading: Growing up surrounded by books could have powerful, lasting effect on the mind” via Brigit Katz of Smithsonian.com — Growing up with few books in the home resulted in below average literacy levels. Being surrounded by 80 books boosted the levels to average, and literacy continued to improve until libraries reached about 350 books, at which point the literacy rates leveled off. The researchers observed similar trends when it came to numeracy; the effects were not as pronounced with information communication technology tests, but skills did improve with increased numbers of books. So, what are the implications of the new study? Take, for instance, adults who grew up with hardly any books in the home, but went on to obtain a university degree in comparison to an adult who grew up with a large home library, but only had nine years of schooling. The study found that both of their literacy levels were roughly average. “So, literacy-wise, bookish adolescence makes up for a good deal of educational advantage,” the study authors write.

Happy birthday belatedly to Ramba Consulting’s Cameron Yarbrough and state Rep. Jim Boyd. Also celebrating today are good guys Brian Rimes and John Sowinski, as well as state Rep. Patricia Hawkins-Williams.

Last Call for 10.22.18 — 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

A proposed constitutional amendment to increase the homestead property tax exemption is failing, according to results of a new poll.

A survey by St. Pete Polls shows that nearly 49 percent of voters asked said they had already voted for it or planned to.

Amendments need no less than 60 percent approval, however, to be added to the state constitution.

Another 35 percent said they voted against it or planned to, and another 16 percent still hadn’t decided how or if they would vote on what’s “Amendment 1” on the statewide ballot.

Here’s the fine print behind the poll: It was “conducted through an automated phone call polling system.

“The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida. The weighting demographics used were: Political party, race, age, gender and media market.

“The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results … The scientific results … have a sample size of 1,575 and a 2.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.”

Evening Reads

Republicans hold cash edge heading into final stretch if the midterms” via Kenneth Vogel and Rachel Shorey of The New York Times

How to win Florida” via Michael Grunwald of POLITICO

15 days out — Joe Biden time in Florida” via Steve Schale for his blog

Joe Biden lays it out in Tampa: ‘You will never vote in an election that’s more important’” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott camp disputes poll showing Bill Nelson ahead in Senate race” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Ron DeSantis backs out of meeting with USA Today network” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

These people have little chance of being governor. Here’s why they’re running anyway.” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald

The battle over Florida’s proposed greyhound racing ban has one side accusing the other of employing ‘the worst of modern politics’” via Kirby Wilson of Tampa Bay Times

New poll shows Ross Spano 6 points up in CD 15 contest” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Lindsay Cross ad: ‘Put a scientist in the Senate’” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Who are professional women, moms duking it out in unusually clean Florida House 54 race?” via Laurence Reisman of the TC Palm

As HD 15 race gets pricey, Wyman Duggan holds cash lead” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

Andrew Gillum “signed a pledge to cut police funding and support a group that says, ‘police and prisons have no place in justice,’ (and) that ‘police were never meant to serve us.’ It’s dangerous.” — Florida Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Council will meet and discuss issues such as the implementation of a new law aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. That’s at 8:30 a.m., Florida Department of Health, 4025 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission will continue two days of interviews of candidates to replace Chief Judge Leslie Rothenberg and Judge Richard Suarez. That’s at 8:30 a.m., DLA Piper LLP, 200 South Biscayne Blvd., 25th floor, Miami.

The Triumph Gulf Coast Board of Directors, which makes decisions about how to spend money in Northwest Florida from a Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement, will meet in Okaloosa County. That’s 11 a.m. (Central time), Warriors Hall Community Center, 201 Stillwell Ave., Crestview.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will appear at an Orlando rally for the re-election campaigns of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Also expected to take part in the event is Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. That’s at 3:45 p.m., Cheyenne Saloon, 128 West Church St., Orlando.

Republican Ashley Moody and Democrat Sean Shaw, who are running for Attorney General, will participate in a one-hour debate that will be shown live on Bay News 9 in Tampa and Spectrum News 13 in Orlando. That’s at 7 p.m., Bay News 9. Tampa.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.22.18

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

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

If the goal of either side in the Florida Governor’s debate Sunday night between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis was to change minds, that probably didn’t happen.

During a spirited hour-long debate on CNN in which no punches were pulled, both candidates to be Florida’s governor kept their respective cool, got in their talking points and attacks, and dodged issues they didn’t want to directly address.

DeSantis kept up the line of attack he has used throughout the campaign, namely that Gillum is a corrupted socialist who wants to ruin the state with massive tax hikes while dodging a corruption investigation by the FBI.

Gillum countered that DeSantis is a corrupted Donald Trump acolyte who is controlled by the National Rifle Association.

That’s what they have been saying about each other since the August primary, and with the election now about two weeks away they didn’t deviate. Both men were prepared, they didn’t commit a grievous blunder during the spicy back-and-forth that could have led to a disastrous headline.

Each man was well-coached to deflect attacks and ready to sprinkle in a snappy one-liner that just might appear in a TV commercial in the closing days of the campaign.

So, here’s a random sampling of things that jumped out:

Favorite zingers

From Gillum: “If the congressman is elected, which he won’t be, he will worship at the feet of Donald Trump.”

From DeSantis: “If you believe with that record that he (Gillum) ain’t gonna raise your taxes, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.”

Sunday night’s debate may not have changed many minds.

Monkey business

DeSantis was asked by moderator Jake Tapper, who did a good job of keeping things on track, to explain his “monkey it up” comment about Gillum and the state’s economy on the day after the primary election. It was widely panned as a racist dog whistle.

“Here’s the deal. You look at my record. When you’re down-range in Iraq, it didn’t matter your race. We all wore the same uniform. We all had that American flag patch on our arm. And that was the end of story. You look at me as a prosecutor working with law enforcement. It didn’t matter the race of the victim. We were there to support the race of the victim. So, Floridians can know that I will be a governor for all Floridians.”

Gillum’s counter: “The congressman let us know exactly where he was going to take this race the day after he won the nomination. The monkey up comment said it all. He has continued throughout the course of this campaign to draw all the attention he can to the color of my skin. … The only color the people of the state of Florida care about is the blue-green algae that is flowing out of the state.”

Was the original question answered?

Not really.

Parkland

DeSantis is loved by the NRA.

Gillum is not.

That’s an issue.

After the slaughter of 17 innocents at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the state adopted modest gun control restrictions – opposed, strongly, by the NRA. DeSantis said as governor, he would have vetoed the law.

Why?

After invoking the shooting at the congressional softball game, DeSantis dodged the question, saying the shooter who “should have been convicted of a crime” and “he should have been Baker-Acted.”

Um, Congressman? While there were warnings about the mental state of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, he hadn’t done anything that would have led to a conviction before entering the school. And the state’s Baker Act law would have allowed him to be held only 72 hours for observation.

Gillum’s counter: “He is wholly owned by the NRA.”

What now?

No doubt, both sides believe they won this debate, but I really think the people of Florida did.

Both men were pointed in their barbs, but it didn’t get out of control. They made their points, and it’s up to the viewer to agree or not. It was lively, and I don’t think either man got rattled by the other.

It was healthy. It was informative.

In the end, we were given a good look at both men and what they stand for. That’s what debates are for.

Debate tweets:

—@JimRosicaFL: Sorry, just broke up a cat vs. chihuahua fight, and now it’s bathtime. Is there a political debate or something going on tonight? 

—@JacobEngels: Not gonna lie. @AndrewGillum has a better cut on his suit/style far exceeds @RonDeSantisFL… who looks a little tubby.

—@JoshSidorowicz: Lots of people already noting the contrast in candidates’ opening statements. DeSantis went on attack against Gillum. Gillum responds: “wow, that was quite a mouthful” and leaves it at that.

—@NewsbySmiley: Tapper asks why DeSantis is wrong that Gillum’s a socialist. Sidebar: Before this debate, a PAC aired an ad that basically said all Democrats are socialist, and told viewers electing Democrats will give them a screaming Nancy Pelosi with a massive gavel

@JacobOgles: Fun fact. Disney got rid of the old FastPass system and now has people sign up for particular times to ride. In other words, a waiting list.

@SteveBousquet: Ron DeSantis sidesteps CNN’s question on whether he agrees with $15 minimum wage at Disney; says it’s an “incentive for automation”

@DeFede: Here is the line of debate so far. @AndrewGillum: “The Congressman let us know exactly where he would take this race the day after he won the nomination. The monkey up comment said it all. And he has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention …” … “… he can to the color of my skin. And the truth is I’m black. I’ve been black all of my life. So far as I know I’ll die black.” My guess is he had that line ready to fire as things heat up.  @RonDeSantisFL stopped smiling at that point.

@Rob_Bradley: This is a good debate. Jake Tapper is doing what a moderator should do-letting it be about the candidates, not him, but keeping things moving.

@DeFede: It is clear @RonDeSantisFL and @AndrewGillum do not like each other. This is a bloody affair. Not sure what voters are learning. 

—@TalesDarkSide: “I am black, I’ve been black and I far as I know I’ll die black.” — Mayor Gillum, I straight did my entire Black History Month *praise lap* and it’s only October.

@GrayRohrer: Fun fact: the governor of Florida has no affect on immigration enforcement

@PatriciaMazzei: DeSantis has turned pretty much every question into an attack on Gillum. (Which Gillum predicted in advance of the debate.) DeSantis asks Gillum questions; Gillum says, “You can proceed with your time.”

@JamilSmith: It is notable that @AndrewGillum calls @RepDeSantis “Congressman” and DeSantis calls him “Andrew.” Gillum is still Mayor of Tallahassee, and DeSantis is not even a Congressman anymore. It is clear what his word choice implies.

—@AdamGoodman3: @CNN #FLGovDebate Tonight’s bottom line: @RonDeSantisFL effectively stoked & stroked his base but lost visual battle on TV. Despite some tough moments, @AndrewGillum looked at ease and in command; and his closing statement was a winner.

—@realDonaldTrump: Ron @RonDeSantisFL DeSantis had a great debate victory tonight against Andrew Gillum, a mayor who presides over one of the worst run, and most corrupt, cities in Florida. Ron will build on the great job done by Governor Rick Scott. Gillum will make Florida the next Venezuela!

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@RealDonaldTrump: All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!

—@MattYglesias: “If you want change, you should vote instead of yelling at politicians in restaurants” would be a more compelling in a system where getting more votes than the other guy guaranteed electoral victory.

@NateSilver538: If a pollster publishes a poll that looks like an outlier, the right move is to: 1) Be happy that the pollster was willing to publish it. It means they’re doing honest work. 2) Put it in the average. Don’t ignore it, but also don’t assume it’s the new normal.

@NickGourevitch: I don’t claim to know what will happen in two weeks (spoiler: nobody does) but I’m pretty sure nobody truly understands the turnout dynamic this year. I’m a pollster telling you that polls are flawed tools at telling you what the turnout dynamic will be.

@GBennettPost: Shades of @CharlieCrist — an electric fan on stage at @AndrewGillum rally in Riviera Beach.

—@DavidJollyFL: Just gonna say it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with confronting elected officials in public. Nothing. Zero. We should do more of it. It is who we are as Americans. Channel Thoreau. Do it. No politician was conscripted to serve. They asked for the opportunity.

@Poniewozik: If I could change one thing in media, it would be: no news outlet, ever again, would base its policy on perception and “How will this make us look?” It serves no one, we get too cute by half, we look phony — because it IS phony — and bad-faith critics will attack us regardless.

@NateMonroeTU: I’ve been a reporter for the better part of a decade — so no grizzled vet — but @JSOPIO is easily, by far, full stop the most secretive, least open police department I’ve ever seen. It’s a huge problem in a county that leads the state in the murder rate.

—@GrayRohrer: Ah, so I see Kirk Herbstreit talked trash about UCF in the morning yesterday day then saw his alma mater get stomped by a team in black and gold at night. Karma, bitch.

— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —

Through this weekend, more than 877,000 ballots had completed their round trips and were back in the hands of county supervisors of election. Republicans, as is tradition, led the overall VBM tally with 386,101 ballots returned — 44 percent of the total — while registered Dems were 5 points back and independents made up nearly 18 percent of the vote so far.

The overall returns represent a little over a quarter of mail ballots sent out and roughly an eighth of the 7 million votes expected to be cast by pencils down on Nov. 6. In 2014, the most recent comparable election, Floridians returned nearly 1.2 million mail ballots.

Though the Friday tally wasn’t particularly large, there were a couple of noteworthy stats among the stacks of mail. Chief among them: Bay County processed its first ballots. The Panhandle county was among the hardest hit when Hurricane Michael tore through Northwest Florida two weeks ago. Gulf and Liberty counties, however, are still yet to show up on the statewide box score.

Happening today — Early voting begins in several counties across the state, including Alachua, Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie and Taylor. Counties statewide are required to start early voting Oct. 27, but they have authority to start as early as today.

— BATTLE OF THE POLLS 

Just ahead of Sunday night’s CNN debate in Florida’s gubernatorial contest, a trio of new polling shows wide fluctuation in the race, ranging from a double-digit lead for Gillum to a slight advantage for DeSantis, which led to disputes and doubts over methodology.

A CNN poll released Saturday gives Gillum a 12-point advantage over DeSantis, resulting in immediate pushback from Republicans, who said it “polled an electorate never seen in Florida.” The survey of registered voters, taken Oct. 16-20, shows Gillum winning 52 percent of the vote over DeSantis’ 42 percent. Another 5 percent reported no opinion and 1 percent said they would not vote for either candidate.

Ahead of Sunday night’s CNN debate, polls in the Florida gubernatorial race were all over the map.

The DeSantis camp criticized the CNN poll for a sample size that gave Democrats a 3-percent edge in a nonpresidential election. Pollsters SSRS said the sample included 32 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 39 percent independent of third-party voters.

That NPA turnout, DeSantis officials said, also seemed unrealistically high, as independents never outnumber Democrats and Republicans at the poll in a Florida statewide election.

To counter, an internal poll touted by Team DeSantis gives the Republican a two-point edge over Gillum, 47 to 45 percent, with another 7 percent unsure. In the polling memo, campaign chair Susie Wiles said her pollsters surveyed potential voters over three consecutive nights in advance of the debate.

“This survey included over 2,000 live interviews with a projected universe reflecting a historic midterm election turnout among Democratic and women voters,” Wiles wrote. “In short, this assumes a challenging electoral scenario for Republicans, but one we are presently rising above. We currently show Ron with a 47 percent — 45 percent lead. Ron’s lead is larger at +7 percent among voter that have already cast vote by mail ballots.”

Meanwhile, well-regarded Florida pollster Tom Eldon of SEA Polling has come out with a new statewide survey Sunday that gives Gillum a six-point lead over DeSantis, 48-42 percent, with 10 percent undecided. Taken Oct. 17-20, pollsters asked 600 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. Propelling Gillum is strong support among NPAs, women and Hispanic voters, Eldon’s polling memo said.

>>>Keep in mind that during the GOP primary, it was DeSantis’s internal polling, not any public polling, which was the most accurate about the state of that race.

— MORE GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Trump tweets that Andrew Gillum runs ‘one of the worst’ cities” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The president of the United States took to Twitter at 10:56 a.m. Saturday and called Tallahassee one of the “worst & most corrupt cities in USA!” Trump appeared to have wanted to boost the campaigns of DeSantis for Governor and Gov. Scott for the U.S. Senate, while throwing a jab at Gillum without naming him. But in doing so, he placed Tallahassee front and center in a social media firestorm that pitted city critics with passionate defenders who call Tallahassee home. Gillum quickly responded, suggesting the tweet was cowardly. “When you lie about me from the most powerful office in the world and still don’t have the courage to @ me …” Gillum said while retweeting the president’s tweet.

Gillum releases tax returns, calls on Ron DeSantis to do the same” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum filed joint returns with spouse R.J., and the two reported a combined income of $480,000 for the two years. His spokeswoman immediately called on Republican nominee DeSantis to follow suit. “Mayor Gillum took an important step in being transparent and open with Floridians by releasing his tax returns, and now, it’s time for Ron DeSantis to do the same,” said Communications Director Johanna Cervone. “Floridians deserve transparency, honesty and integrity from their next governor, which is exactly what Andrew Gillum has done as Mayor and what he’ll do as Governor.”

DeSantis is ‘uniquely dislikable candidate,’ says Gillum” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — “They have a uniquely unlikeable candidate. He’s easily dislikable,” said Gillum. “I don’t think anybody could spend a lot of time with him and walk away feeling inspired or encouraged or believe that he in some way knows what it means to live their life. They realize they can’t package him in that way … I’ve heard from Republican members of Congress (DeSantis would) go on these congressional trips with them, and he’d put on his headphones and not talk to them the entire time.” The Tallahassee mayor’s tough comments came, ironically, as he sought to contrast his campaign largely focused on his agenda for Florida with DeSantis’ largely focused on attacking Gillum. He predicted Republicans and DeSantis would spend the remaining 17 days of the race trying to push down turnout by attacking him.

DeSantis keeps up negative (and false) attacks on Gillum in Tampa” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In Tampa, an enthusiastic crowd made up largely of grass-roots campaign workers crammed into a tiny GOP campaign office suite for an appearance by DeSantis, his wife Casey and Rep. Matt Gaetz. For about 20 minutes, they heard DeSantis launch one attack after another. DeSantis used the same attack themes, many of them distorted or false, that has been a staple of ads run on his behalf against Gillum by Republican Party organizations. He said Gillum is a socialist who’s hostile to law enforcement, intends to take away people’s Medicare and veterans’ health benefits, has made Tallahassee “the most crime-ridden city in Florida,” and plans “a 40 percent tax increase” for Florida. “I’m the only candidate (for governor) who can credibly say he’s not under investigation by the FBI,” he added, referring to an investigation of Tallahassee city government.

Ron DeSantis continues to insist on spreading false attacks on Andrew Gillum, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Remaining mum on amendments” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — But don’t look for some of the state’s top politicians to help you sort out the ballot. Gov. Scott and the two main candidates running for governor have voiced opinions on only a handful of the measures on the ballot. Both Scott and fellow Republican DeSantis, for example, oppose Amendment 4, while Democrat Gillum strongly supports the measure. If passed Amendment 4 would allow most former prisoners, except for murderers and those convicted of sex offenses, to have their voting rights restored after they serve their sentences. DeSantis has expressed concerns about Amendment 3. Both Scott and Gillum have kept silent on the measure. Scott has said he plans to vote for Amendment 9, a proposal put on the ballot by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission that deals with both oil drilling and vaping. Neither DeSantis nor Gillum has taken a stance on the measure.

Gillum wants criminal justice reform. DeSantis wants mandatory minimums. Here’s how the candidates differ” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — To Gillum, the state is wasting money locking up people who deserve second chances. To DeSantis, any retreat from the state’s tough-on-crime policies is an offense to police and will reverse the state’s 50-year low crime rates. Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, talks about criminal justice in an aspirational tone. He talks of reforming the state’s bail system, of investing in re-entry services, of ending mass incarceration. DeSantis, the former congressman who until recently represented the suburbs south of Jacksonville, avoids offering his own policy proposals, instead invoking fear that any change to the status quo will threaten Florida’s safety. Gillum never mentioned DeSantis in his speech, but DeSantis inveighed against Gillum in nearly every sentence. He said that Gillum was not only incompetent, but that Tallahassee’s high crime rate “flows from his radical ideology.”

Election ad pitch to young voters: ‘Our chance to finally elect Florida’s first black Governor’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The political organization NextGen Florida is spending $1.2 million on the ads, which will run through Election Day. The pair of ads is running on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Hulu, Vevo, Spotify, Pandora, Google search and the gaming platform Twitch. Targeting young voters, the ads are more direct than traditional television advertising. NextGen said the ads utilize research-based messaging to reach their intended audience: 1.8 million young Floridians. The organization’s research found that effective messages include explaining to young people that politicians won’t listen to their needs if they don’t vote; that, as the largest eligible voting bloc, they have the power to bring about change are the most; and that encouraging people to make a plan to vote on Election Day works.

Hillary Clinton to keep low profile in race for Governor” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Clinton is coming to Florida next week to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum — but don’t expect the campaign to make a big deal about it. Clinton will hold closed-door fundraisers in support of Gillum but no public events … Gillum announced last month that he would campaign Oct. 23 with Clinton in South Florida, adding that he was “honored to have Secretary Clinton join me.” That wasn’t greeted well by some Gillum supporters, who wrote on Twitter that Gillum would be making a mistake by appearing with Clinton. “Gillum’s already got South Florida in the bag,” Miami filmmaker Billy Corben wrote on Twitter. “Why polarize? Even Hillary voters don’t want to see or hear from her again.”

Alt-right Florida GOP operative complains he was assaulted while taunting people at Gillum” rally via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — An Orlando-based Republican consultant and member of the far right Proud Boys group, attended Andrew Gillum’s women’s rally in Tampa Friday night, shouting into a megaphone about billionaire liberal George Soros as Gillum addressed the crowd. Video footage showed several people shoving the man, Jacob Engels, and/or trying to knock the megaphone from his hands. Engels, a provocateur and close associate of fellow InfoWars contributor Roger Stone, used to attack Republican DeSantis during the GOP primary. He said a “violent mob” of Gillum supporters assaulted him Friday, part of a narrative many Republicans across the country are using lately about Democrats. Engels also accused Gillum supporters of being homophobic because he is gay.

Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Jeanette Nuñez hosts a meet-and-greet, 5 p.m., Havana Jax Café, 2578 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Rick Scott has millions invested in Puerto Rico electric company” via Dan Christensen of FloridaBulldog.org — The Governor and his wife have untold millions of dollars invested in the commonwealth’s devastated electric company … via AG Superfund, a New York hedge fund which with other large investors issued $9 billion of credit to the government-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA. Those bond investors were enticed by the island’s lucrative tax breaks. In July, Gov. Scott’s blind trust valued its AG Superfund holdings as worth between $1 million and $5 million. He also disclosed that four trusts and a family partnership in the name of First Lady Ann Scott valued their investments as being worth over $1 million each — meaning the Scotts’ total investment in AG Superfund is at least $5 million.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority employees fix power lines in San Juan, Oct. 19. (Image via Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg News)

Revealed: Scott’s financial link to botched SunPass contract” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott has financial ties to the vendor that operates the troubled SunPass toll-collection system. Here’s how public documents explain the latest link: By late June, records show, a manager of a hedge fund called Highline Capital Management held 7 million shares of stock worth $127 million in Conduent Inc. Scott and his wife Ann have invested at least $5 million in the fund managed by Highline. A Conduent subsidiary, Conduent State and Local Solutions, won a $287 million Florida contract in 2015 to manage SunPass. The contract, which has grown to $343 million, was awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) whose secretary is appointed by Scott. Direct oversight of Conduent is the responsibility of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, an arm of FDOT. Scott attended a Senate campaign fundraiser in Dallas in May at which his hosts included Darwin Deason, a Texas investor and a major shareholder in Conduent.

Red-tide awakening: How Florida’s environmental woes could hurt Scott in Senate race” via David Knowles of Yahoo News — “It impacted a few media markets where swing voters live — Tampa, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach,” Democratic strategist Steve Schale told Yahoo News. “There are voters who have voted for both Nelson and Scott in those markets.” After the Army Corps of Engineers released water tainted with a different microorganism, blue-green algae, from Lake Okeechobee in the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, the red tide, which can stain the ocean a rusty-brown hue, got much worse. Schale thinks the duration of this year’s red tide has left Scott vulnerable: “These voters have been living with algae for many years now, and for Scott, who talks about getting things done, the fact nothing has changed on algae, and red tide goes right at his strength.”

New Bill Nelson ad labels Scott as ‘Red Tide Rick’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Nelson is going into the swamp for his new television commercial attacking Scott over his past problems in the private sector, his finances and environmental record, labeling him, “Red Tide Rick.” The 30-second commercial, “Swamp,” features talking cartoon frogs that keep croaking, “Rick” and “Scott” each time a narrator rolls out an allegation about Nelson’s opponent. “Now our Florida is poisoned with toxic algae,” the narrator declares. “He’s so slimy. Let’s leave him in Tallahassee. We can’t trust Red Tide Rick.” “Nope,” croaks one of the frogs.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott ad touts he’s ‘Good for Florida’ — In the latest 30-second spot, Scott says: “Florida needs a Senator who will work with the President of the United States.” “That may seem obvious,” he adds, “but Bill Nelson refuses to work with the president on anything — even issues that really matter to Florida. … As for me, I’ll work with President Trump when he’s doing things that are good for Florida and America … And when I disagree, I have the courage to say so.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

LIBRE Action rolls out pro-Scott bilingual ads — The ads from the conservative Hispanic group, one each in English and Spanish, are focused on building support for Gov. Scott in his race for the U.S. Senate. In a statement, LIBRE Action Senior Adviser Daniel Garza said: “Latino families across Florida are eager to support a candidate who is focused on real solutions that address the challenges we face as a community and as a nation. Gov. Scott has been a champion for Latinos and a partner on the issues that matter most. He has shown his commitment to effectively serving a broad and diverse constituency, which includes engaging and listening to the concerns of our Latino community.”

To view the Spanish version, click on the image below:

To view the English version, click on the image below:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Assignment editors — Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Florida to campaign for Nelson, Gillum, and other candidates on the Florida Democratic Party’s “Winning Ticket.” Biden will headline a Tampa rally, open to the public, the same day early voting starts in several counties across the state. Press preset begins 9:45 a.m., doors open 10:30 a.m., preprogram is 11:30 a.m., the main program begins noon, University of South Florida, East Gym, 12301 USF Maple Dr., Tampa. Media RSVP here.

Interest in midterms surges, boosting Trump approval rating” via Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal — A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found … nearly two-thirds of registered voters showed a high level of interest in the election — the highest ever recorded in a midterm election since the Journal/NBC poll began asking the question in 2006. “It’s a barnburner,” Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster who conducted the survey with Democrat Fred Yang, said of the surge of voter interest. “There’s a switch that’s been flipped … They are engaging in the campaign and the process.” Also helping Republicans is a rise in President Trump’s job-approval rating to 47%, the highest mark of his time in office, with 49% disapproving his performance. That is an improvement from last month, when 44% approved and 52% disapproved of his performance. Democrats still lead on the question of which party should control Congress. Among poll respondents identified as likely voters, 50% prefer Democrats, while 41% prefer Republican control, about the same as in last month’s poll. Among all registered voters, a broader group of respondents, Democrats’ advantage over the GOP is narrower — 48% to 41%.

Assignment editors — The Florida Democratic Party hosts an early voting event for senior citizens featuring state Sens. Victor Torres and Linda Stewart, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill and Florida CFO candidate Jeremy Ring, 10 a.m., Beardell Senior Center, 800 South Delaney Ave, Orlando.

Happening today — The NAACP joins other civil-rights groups for a news conference about an initiative to turn out minority voters. Featured speakers include Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson, 10 a.m., Florida Asian Services Center, 659 N.E. 125th St., North Miami.

For Our Future Florida doubles down on staff ahead of early voting – Progressive group For Our Future Florida said it’s doubled up on Sunshine State staffers ahead of early voting getting underway in some of the state’s largest counties Monday. For Our Future Florida has already been pounding the pavement in all corners of the state for weeks, but after expanding to 1,250 field staffers, which gives it the largest on-the-ground operation among PACs playing in Florida’s 2018 elections. Those numbers, which don’t include its volunteer recruits, give the group enough manpower to rap on more than 300,000 doors a week, a threshold it eclipsed last week. “The scale of this program is due to the fact that we’ve been on the ground, organizing in communities since we launched in 2016. We never left. That work has enabled us to build relationships and create a statewide volunteer program dedicated to working on the issues that matter to Floridians,” state director Ashley Walker said.

Sean Shaw invokes father, PBA to counter ‘cop killer’ sympathy accusation; Ashley Moody sticks by ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida Police Benevolent Association leaders defended Democratic Attorney General candidate Shaw against allegations he supported going easy on a “cop killer.” Shaw and the law enforcement leader also invoked the memory of Shaw’s father while dismissing the new attack. “We know from firsthand experience that Representative Sean Shaw, like his father Justice [LeanderShaw, fully supports law enforcement officers and their families,” said Mark Puckett, executive director of Florida’s PBA. The defense follows a fresh ad questioning if Shaw would support law enforcement. The TV ad says Shaw “backed reduced punishment for a cop killer.” Shaw labeled the ad a “misleading and reckless” attack by Republican Attorney General candidate Moody.

Matt Caldwell, Nikki fried question each others’ allegiances in Agriculture Commissioner race” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, defended his environmental record and ties to the National Rifle Association during a debate with Democrat Fried in the contest for state Agriculture Commissioner. Caldwell and Fried faced off on “Facing South Florida” on CBS4 in Miami for the only debate of the race. Caldwell, who has been endorsed by the NRA with an “A+” rating, was asked by debate host Jim DeFede if he was too close to the group to regulate weapons. “No one should get a license if they are not qualified for it,” Caldwell said. “And if somebody is not doing their job, they should get fired.” Fried said the department under Adam Putnam “was beholden” to the NRA and that Caldwell has been “dismissive” of the licensing issue. She said the state should consider putting licensing under a law enforcement agency such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “I think we need to start that conversation to make sure we are doing it in an effective and accountable manner,” Fried said.

Assignment editors — Marsy’s Law for Florida, the group advocating crime victims’ rights through Amendment 6, will host a public early voting rally featuring special guests including former Miami Heat basketball players, entertainment by The Old Skool Gang and free food, 4 p.m., Miramar Branch Library, 2050 Civic Center Pl., Miramar.

— MORE NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Sanjay Patel launches digital ad in CD 8 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The two-minute, 17-second video offers a montage of images of Florida’s Space Coast and Treasure Coast from Kennedy Space Center rocket launches to beaches; of struggles, of someone suffering health problems in a bed, dead fish, and toxic algae; and also of Patel himself, in contemplation, and meeting with voters. The video has a distinctive progressive Democratic theme of the powerless against the powerful, summed up with his observation, “It’s time to prove that the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Kristen Carlson outraising Ross Spano in U.S. House race, polls tight” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrat Carlson expanded her fundraising lead over Republican Spano in Florida’s 15th Congressional District race during August and September, as one top analyst forecast the race razor close. Carlson pulled in $579,017 for a total so far of $905,567, including $92,114 from herself, and showed $502,151 in cash. Spano raised $191,530 for a total $439,952, including $104,500 from himself, and showed $165,613 in cash — but also debts of $165,366 to campaign vendors. Polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com rates Spano ahead by less than 2 points and gives Carlson a 40 percent chance of winning in the GOP-leaning district.

Brian Mast, Lauren Baer: National groups pumping more money into 18th District congressional race” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The GOP’s Protect the House donated $96,000 to Rep. Mast‘s re-election campaign in September, bringing his total to $190,000 — the most the group has donated to any of the 26 candidates it’s trying to elect to retain control of the House. Vice President Mike Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy launched the fundraising committee to help especially vulnerable candidates. So why has Protect the House poured the most money into Florida’s 18th Congressional District race, when nonpartisan political analysts have long maintained Mast will win? Both parties have promoted both candidates as “crucial” for House control. Increased ad spending is often a sign a race is growing more competitive, but because it’s less than a month before the election, it could be a sign campaigns are simply emptying their coffers, said Spiro Kiousis, a University of Florida professor who studies political communications.

Carlos Curbelo, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell fling attacks during English-language TV debate” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — And though WPLG’s Michael Putney led off the debate with health care, Mucarsel-Powell went immediately on the attack, blasting a protest by Republicans and far-right activists against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week at a campaign event Mucarsel-Powell attended with Donna Shalala. Curbelo condemned the protest and said he had no connection to it, but also took a shot at Mucarsel-Powell for promoting a campaign event with Rep. Barbara Lee, a liberal member of Congress who praised Fidel Castro after his death in 2016. Lee’s scheduled appearance sparked the protest, but she ended up as a no-show at the event. As Putney and Milberg attempted to move through a variety of policy issues like health care, taxes, and guns, the debate careened from the protest attack to Curbelo attacking Mucarsel-Powell for “not working in three years” and Mucarsel-Powell attacking Curbelo for an attack ad against her that depicts a man holding a gun. Mucarsel-Powell said her son was watching baseball the other night when the ad came on, and it upset him.

Hecklers curse and call Nancy Pelosi a ‘communist’ as far right disrupts a political event” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — It was yet another incident that stoked fears that the country’s bitter and emotional political environment is at risk of leading to violence. The video shows a small group of protesters cursing at Pelosi and calling her a communist in English and Spanish, as she enters an event Wednesday in Coral Gables to campaign for Democrat Donna Shalala in Miami. “You don’t belong here,” one says, telling her to get out in Spanish: “Afuera!” After Pelosi calmly walks by them and enters the building, people bang on the door. “Open up! It’s the Proud Boys in here,” one says, referencing the far-right group that was implicated in a street brawl in New York last weekend. “Socialism sucks,” others chant.

Demonstrators chant outside where Nancy Pelosi spoke at a get-out-the-vote event for Florida Democratic congressional candidates Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. (Image via Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will not return money from Castro-supporting lawmaker” via Martin Vassolo and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Barbara Lee never came to Miami. But the mere mention of the California lawmaker’s name on the programming flier for a campaign event in Coral Gables was enough to trigger a protest, a call for South Florida Democratic candidates to divest from her campaign contributions and an attack ad from a Super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The congresswoman, who turned heads in 2016 by praising former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro after his death, was listed as an expected guest at a “Get Out the Vote” event on news releases issued by the campaigns of Democrat Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell. Despite the protest flare-up outside the event Wednesday — a crowd of mostly Cuban-American demonstrators yelled and waved anti-Communist signs — Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell said they would not return the $5,500 Lee donated to their campaigns ahead of the November election.

New Spanish-language ad: Shalala should be ‘ashamed’— “Castro” is the new ad in Florida’s 27th Congressional District from the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership. The 60-second Spanish-language spot attacks Shalala for campaigning with “political ally” Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who said Fidel Castro’s death should be mourned and lobbied President Obama to oppose sanctions on the Maduro regime in Venezuela: “Donna Shalala is not from Miami … she doesn’t speak Spanish … and she doesn’t understand our community.” The radio ad will run in the Miami media market. Listen to the ad here.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Conservative committee sends ‘sexist’ Amanda Murphy attack mailer” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee this week sent out a demeaning attack ad against Democrat Murphy, who faces Ed Hooper for Senate District 16 in north Pinellas. On one side is the image of a young girl wearing a larger than life bow on her head while crying. Next to her, it says, “career politician Amanda Murphy behaves like a spoiled child.” On the other side is a claim: “Amanda Murphy throws a fit when she doesn’t get her way … because Amanda Murphy is good at making a spectacle but fails when it comes to making a difference.” The mailpiece does not make any specific reference to “fits” she has thrown or offered any action to back up the assertion she behaves like a “spoiled child.” In the era of “#MeToo,” the ad might appear to some as tone deaf.

Conservatives ‘sexist’ ad attacking Democrat Amanda Murphy.

Realtors roll out more House endorsements — Florida Realtors PAC announced four more candidate endorsements for the Florida House: Chuck Brannan in House District 10; Anthony Sabatini in HD 32; Mike Beltran in HD 57 and Ray Blacklidge in HD 69. The full Florida Realtors® PAC 2018 general election endorsement list can be found at pac.floridarealtors.org.

National GOP group names Ardian Zika among ‘Races to Watch’ — Republican State Leadership Committee honored Zika in its “18 in ’18 Races to Watch” List. “Republicans at the state level would not be reaching historical highs, without the growing diversity of our party, and candidates like Ardian Zika. Ardian represents the best from our Future Majority Project (FMP) and Right Women, Right Now (RWRN) initiatives. The RSLC has invested over $20 million in these initiatives since 2011, electing 500 new female and 100 new diverse office holders in the process,” said Matt Walter, President of the Republican State Leadership Committee.

Stockton Reeves’ new TV ad paints Anna Eskamani as radical” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new commercial, running on Orlando cable, draws stark contrast, depicting Eskamani with chaotic shots of her speaking at a rally, and of other people rioting; and then of himself with shots of him with his wife and two young children, and calm pictures of happy people. “This district isn’t home to extremists. But it is home to independent leader Stockton Reeves,” the commercial states. Eskamani dismissed the commercial as “laced with lies and dog whistling.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Hurricane victims’ biggest fear: ‘people are going to start forgetting’” via Glenn Thrush and Alan Blinder of The New York Times — Many in Jackson County are simply not ready for the hurricane relief to end. There is a feeling, fair or not, that officials are moving too fast, chasing the image of normalcy before a real recovery has taken root. That feeling of being hurried, and eventually left behind — the normalizing of a catastrophe — is a growing worry for people who are caught between a short-attention-span country that has seen one disaster after another and the long-term effort it takes to rebuild battered lives. Marianna, with a population of about 10,000, was hit almost as hard by Hurricane Michael as Panama City was … Downtown Marianna still looks like London after the Blitz. There are signs that the region is slowly recovering. Power has returned to downtown Marianna, allowing a few stores to reopen, including the gas station and the Winn-Dixie supermarket. “It does a lot of good for people to look out and see the glow of those lights at night,” said Louis Roberts III, the county sheriff.

’Mexico Beach Strong’: An obliterated community vows to rebuild after Michael” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Hurricane Michael destroyed Mexico Beach physically, but residents will be damned if the wake of that monster crushes its spirit. Survivors who have lost everything hope one thing is spared: the charm that kept Mexico Beach an off-the-beaten-path bastion of The Other Florida. “We really hope — we know it’s probably not going to happen — but we really hope it stays the same,” Julie Gardner said. “We don’t want to be commercialized. We don’t want a bunch of chains coming in here. We want it to stay a little mom and pop little town. Mexico Beach relies on the thousands of summer tourists to support the economy. It is unknown when it will be possible for them to come back. But it will happen, people here say. Eventually. Right now, their task is to hold each other up.

Mexico Beach residents vow they will rebuild. (Image via USA TODAY)

Panhandle medical care on life support after Michael” via Brendan Farrington and Jay Reeves of The Associated Press — Panama City’s two major hospitals, Bay Medical and the 216-bed Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, still aren’t admitting patients. Only emergency room services are available at either facility. Patients with the most serious needs are being sent to other hospitals by ambulance or helicopter. Both hospitals are receiving help from Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, which set up air-conditioned tents in parking lots and operate something like the military field hospitals depicted in the old television series M*A*S*H. Besides the care they’d provide on a typical basis, like treating strep throat, doctors and nurses also are treating many people with storm-related injuries and health conditions. While they aren’t admitting patients, the hospitals are stabilizing people with serious injuries or illness and transporting them to hospitals outside the heavily damaged areas.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai eases up on criticisms to Michael response” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Federal Communications Commission chairman Pai praised Florida’s first responders and telecommunications companies Friday — a positive change in tone from earlier this week. The chairman was in Tallahassee Friday afternoon, meeting with state officials at the emergency operation center discussing the response to Hurricane Michael. In a statement, the chairman took a different tone. He demanded the nation’s wireless carriers compensate Florida customers with free cellular and data service, and slammed the companies for failing to restore service to the Florida Panhandle quickly. Pai said that the companies’ failure was “completely unacceptable” and said he plans to launch an investigation. He told reporters Friday that he was happy to see telecom companies react to his statement and contribute resources to local relief efforts.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai changed his tune on wireless carriers after a visit to the Florida EOC in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael. (Image via Twitter)

Michael struck at the worst time for Florida and Georgia pecan, cotton farmers” via Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Go south on the path of the storm and the story gets more depressing when you talk to survivors who own land or work on farms. The Georgia Department of Agriculture said this week that losses are between $2.3 billion and $2.8 billion. From the car, whizzing by Highway 91, the cotton fields look fine, even though the eye of Hurricane Michael went straight through the farm communities. Upon closer inspection, many of cotton puffs and unopened bolls are in the dirt. Some of the cotton plants were sprayed with a chemical before Hurricane Michael to make them more sturdy against the winds. It worked, and it did not. “It could not have happened at a worse time,” land renter and veterinarian Dr. Cleve Bridges said of the cotton crop near the banks of the Chattahoochee River. “It was prime harvest time.”

VISIT FLORIDA plans $9M marketing push to counter Michael” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The taxpayer-funded tourism agency’s executive committee voted Friday to support a plan that includes highlighting what has reopened in areas hit by the deadly Oct. 10 storm in Northwest Florida. The plan also seeks to call attention to other areas of the Panhandle, such as Pensacola, that were largely unscathed and deliver a message that “the rest of Florida is wide open for business.” “If we do not manage the customer perception, it could be very devastating to our economy if they think that (hurricane damage) is very widespread,” said committee member Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

10 days after hurricane, football offers a welcome escape” via David Brandt of The Associated Press — Under the bright sunshine at Tommy Oliver Stadium in downtown Panama City, a small return to regular life had already begun. For a few hours, football was important again. And the Dolphins were ready to punch back against the Pensacola Tigers. In many ways, it was almost shocking to see football being played in the midst of such widespread devastation. From the higher seats of the stadium, the effect on Panama City was evident, with debris, utility crews and snapped pine trees as far as the eye could see. It was a joyful gathering where everyone forgot their worries. Fans, football players, cheerleaders and band members from several area schools were at the game. “Man, this is great,” said Nate Starr, the lead game official whose home in Callaway was heavily damaged during the storm. “It gets the community together. We’re all family now.”

Ships wrecked on Dog Island in 1899 unearthed by Michael” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ships that washed ashore on Dog Island during the 1899 Carrabelle Hurricane were unearthed completely by Hurricane Michael’s vicious storm surge last week. It’s unclear which of the 15 ships, or how many, that grounded on the Franklin County barrier island during the storm 119 years ago were unearthed. Sitting on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, the wooden ships now rest in plain view near the west end of the island.

Happening today — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam meets with Gulf County officials and tour areas hit by Michael, 11 a.m., Gulf County Emergency Operations Center, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd., Port St. Joe.

— STATEWIDE —

Happening today — Representatives of Equality Florida and other groups will deliver letters to Gov. Scott’s office to request protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer state employees, 1:15 p.m., outside the Governor’s office, The Capitol.

Florida county dedicates new Civil War memorial” via The Associated Press — A new monument in Tampa was erected with a nod to those who fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. The new memorial features two granite obelisks mounted with informational plaques and separated by a few dozen feet of blue marble meant to symbolize the Hillsborough River. Until Saturday, Veterans Memorial Park included monuments honoring local veterans from nearly every major American conflict — but no major monument dedicated to the Civil War.

Fire blazes at Santa’s Enchanted Forest, video shows” via Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — Flames and billowing smoke coming from Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Southwest Miami-Dade could be seen Sunday from the Palmetto Expressway. Helen Avendano, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Fire Department said a call came in at about 7:30 p.m. reporting trees and bushes were on fire at the amusement park. It appeared that the fire had been started by a power line, she said. The fire was out by about 8 p.m., Avendano said. No injuries were reported and the extent of the damage was not immediately known.

— OPINIONS —

Don’t let the gambling industry confuse you on Amendment 3. It’s not about schools” via Fabiola Santiago for the Miami Herald — The latest tactic of the gambling lobby comes by way of ads that tell you a Yes vote would be an anti-schools vote. Nonsense. Schools have both state and local budgets that fund them. As for the size of the state’s tax dollar pot, there’s already plenty of gambling in Florida that generates revenue — including the state lottery, which funds education, although not at the levels originally promised. If you want to help better fund schools in Miami-Dade, for example, vote to give teacher pay raises on referendum #362. But don’t fall for the line that gambling funds education. Gambling funds crime and corruption; you can’t hire enough law enforcement to keep up.

Greg Munson: Four nonpartisan principles on Florida water” via Florida Politics — Whoever wins Florida’s upcoming elections will — or should — face difficult decisions on Florida’s water supply, water quality and environmental restoration. After nearly two decades engaged in the controversial debates about Florida’s water and environment, and a substantial amount of time in the outdoors, I offer a few nonpartisan principles to those newly elected: Collaboration is more effective than confrontation; Beware of the “fix du jour;” Don’t demonize the opposition; Follow the science. Following these recommendations is the easy part. Actually, balancing the food, power, water, and goods we need with the environmental impacts is where the buck stops.

Michael Williams: Hurricane Michael showed how we bend but don’t break” via The Capitolist — We live in the Big Bend area of Florida. It gets its name from the way the coast bends around from north-south to east-west. But after seeing what I’ve seen over the past week, I think there’s another reason. When I was helping my parents clean up, only one tree was down in their backyard. When I went to take a closer look, I saw this. The tree had fallen down on another tree, bending it over just to the point of breaking. When I saw that I immediately thought, “Wow. This is the perfect image of our community.” As soon as the hurricane passed, first responders and utility workers were out in the streets doing their jobs, trying to return people to a little bit of normalcy. We are a Big Bend people. We support those around us and serve even when it feels like one more thing could make us break, but we don’t. We just bend a little more.

Will Weatherford: Let voters decide on expanded gambling” via Florida Politics — After spending eight years in the Florida Legislature, the last two serving as speaker of the House, I came to a conclusion about the future of casino gambling in Florida. Some decisions are better put into the hands of the people. Casino interests have become one of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee. The pressure they apply to the political process is nonstop. It is why, almost every legislative session, we see casino expansion on the agenda. If nothing more, taking gambling off the political agenda will allow lawmakers to focus on the issues that matter most to their constituents. Voters know when to say when. They serve as a check and balance on the political process. Voter control works. That is why I proposed restoring it in 2014 and why I support Amendment 3 now.

— MOVEMENTS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: AFIMAC Global

Nick Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Hygea Holdings

Andrew Kalel: Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel Region Four, Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Second District

Sean Pittman, Pittman Law Group: Trulieve

Lincoln Quinton, NorthPointe: New Home Title

Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: National Council of State Boards of Nursing

Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Validity Diagnostics

— ALOE —

What Michelle Todd is reading — “UCF is the best college football team in Florida. So, where’s the respect?” via Marc Tracy of The New York Times — Florida, after all, has the highest percentage of high school players who are recruited by Division I teams, the most blue-chip recruits of any state, and is by many other metrics the best state in the country in which to set up a college football team. And that makes UCF the current definition of disruption in college football. Still, undefeated UCF is probably the fourth- or fifth-best-known team in the state, a directional university celebrating its 50th anniversary, whose football program has played in college sports’ top tier for barely two decades. Three years ago, UCF went 0-12. Yet the No. 10 Knights are, for a second year in a row, the best team in the state and one of the best anywhere else. In the last five years, they have won two New Year’s Day bowl games. They hold the longest active winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, at 19 games. “I often say that reputation lags reality,” said Dale Whittaker, the UCF president. He was referring to the university as a whole, but it might apply to the football team especially.

UCF is Florida’s best football team. So, where’s the love?

Disney Princess Kristen Bell has some real concerns about ‘Snow White’ and consent” via Lindsey Bever of The Washington Post — Bell, who provided the voice of Princess Anna in Disney’s animated film “Frozen,” told Parents magazine that when she reads “Snow White” to her two young daughters, she poses a question: “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” She told the magazine she also warns her 3- and 5-year-old daughters not to take apples — or anything else — from strangers. “Every time we close Snow White I look At my girls and ask ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple?’ I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m doing something right.’”

Why Spaceship Earth may miss Disney World’s 50th anniversary” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Disney news site WDW News Today reported earlier this month that Spaceship Earth would be undergoing a major overhaul, closing in early 2020 and not reopening until the second half of 2022, in time for Epcot’s 40th-anniversary celebration. This would mean the ride housed in the iconic Epcot structure would be closed through the resort’s 50th anniversary year … the rumored Spaceship Earth plans would deviate from the timeline of other Disney World projects — including Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy coaster and Ratatouille ride — which are all supposed to be ready in time for 2021. “They don’t want any construction happening for the 50th. That entire year, they don’t want any construction on any of the parks,” an Epcot cast member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly, told Orlando Rising. “If you have hopes of anything being made, it would have to start in time to open for the 50th, and I think they have their hands full right now.”

There’s a rumor that Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth could be closed for the park’s 50th anniversary.

Wet and mild: Warm winter predicted for much of the U.S.” via The Associated Press — Tampa meteorologist Jennifer Hubbard said the Tampa Bay area could expect mostly the same, with mild winter temperatures near or slightly above average, as well as more rain than usual. Hubbard said the bay area’s streak of record-breaking hot weather in October is not related to El Nino, but is instead caused by a combination of factors, such as dry high pressure in the area the past few weeks — which blocks rainfall — easterly winds and little sea breeze. “All of that together, we basically bake,” Hubbard said.

Happy birthday from the weekend to Cameron Yarbrough and state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. Celebrating today is our brilliant friend, Tony Carvajal of the Florida Chamber Foundation, former Sen. Nancy Detert, and Watson Haynes.

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