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.
Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Lost your job because of the storm? Don’t worry: There’s a program for that.
It’s called Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and it’s available to “Florida businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Michael.”
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity now is accepting applications for DUA from residents and businesses in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties. Applications are due by Nov. 14.
Those who are eligible worked or were self-employed or they were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, and now can’t “work or perform services because of physical damage of destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.”
Among other things, they must “establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their principal source of income, and they do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits from any state.”
DUA is available from weeks of unemployment beginning Oct. 14 until April 13, 2019, or as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a result of the hurricane.
“Gov. Scott will be focused on response and recovery from the devastating hurricane … Florida’s wonderful First Lady, Ann Scott, will be taking over his campaign schedule.” — The Rick Scott for U.S. Senate campaign, commenting on the post-Hurricane Michael situation.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Staff members for GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold “mobile” office hours in Hendry, Polk and Pinellas counties:
— 10 a.m., LaBelle City Hall, 481 West Hickpochee Ave., LaBelle.
— 12:30 p.m., Haines City Area of Chamber of Commerce, 35610 Highway 27, Haines City.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis joins several Florida Sheriffs for two news conferences. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Brevard County American Police Hall of Fame & Museum, 6350 Horizon Dr. Titusville; and 1 p.m., Old Polk County Courthouse, 100 E Main St., Bartow.
“Everybody Is For 2,” which is promoting Amendment 2 on the November ballot, will hold a news conference. Campaign manager BethMatuga and RobertWeissert of Florida TaxWatch are among those expected to appear. That’s at 11 a.m., Florida Realtors, 200 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee.
Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Mike Miller, are slated to appear at a debate held by the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. Murphy and Miller are running in Congressional District 7. That’s at noon, Varsity Club at Camping World Stadium, 1 Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando.
GOP U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney is slated to speak to the Caxambas Republican Club of Southwest Florida. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Marco Island Yacht Club, 1400 North Collier Blvd., Marco Island.
GOP State Rep. Danny Burgess will hold his final “meet and greet” of the 2018 election cycle. Free doughnuts will be provided. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Buttermilk Provisions, 2653 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Wesley Chapel.
Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro will speak during a Palm Beach Republican Club event. That’s at 6:15 p.m., The Colony Hotel Pavilion, 155 Hammon Ave., Palm Beach.
The constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion in the Sunshine State has the support of a supermajority of voters, according to a new poll conducted by Associated Industries of Florida.
The AIF poll, obtained by Florida Politics, found 70 percent of likely general election voters are in favor of Amendment 3, also known as the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment.
Constitutional amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state’s governing document.
Only 15 percent of voters said they were planning to vote against the amendment on Election Day, with the other 15 percent of voters presumably undecided.
The new measure shows the anti-gambling expansion amendment has the same level of support as it did at the first of the month. The new results also continue a streak of positive results for Amendment 3, which would give Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.
The AIF poll was conducted Oct. 8-10 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. It’s unclear what is the sample size for the poll.
Voters In Charge, the political committee sponsoring the amendment, has received a heavy amount of support from Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who both have a stake in limiting the expansion of gambling in the state.
As of Oct. 5, it had raised $36.75 million with more than $19.5 million of that cash coming from Disney Worldwide Services, while the Seminole Tribe has pitched in about $17.8 million. The committee is chaired by John Sowinski, the president of No Casinos, which has accounted for most of the rest of the funding.
Voters in Charge has $6.17 million in the bank.
A pair of committees opposing the amendment — Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 and Vote NO on 3 — have raised a combined $7 million as of Oct. 5, with the majority of their support coming from casino interests such as West Flagler Associates, the parent company of Miami’s Magic City Casino.
Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 has nearly $4.2 million on hand thanks in part to a $1.4 million infusion from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while Vote NO on 3 finished the Oct. 5 reporting period with $77,000 in the bank.
Amendment 3 is one of several measures that will go before voters in the 2018 general election.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Good Monday morning. This is a 9,000 word edition of Sunburn (our apologies to Gary Fineout, who lovingly chides us for how long this email can sometimes be) — there’s just that much going on in Florida politics. And there’s so much riveting journalism about Hurricane Michael that it’s a challenge to choose which stories to highlight.
Still, this is a political email, so we’re starting the day with an exclusive look at polling from what may end up being the most expensive campaign this November — even more expensive than the U.S. Senate race!
First in Sunburn — “Gambling amendment will pass, AIF poll suggests” via Florida Politics — The constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion in the Sunshine State has the support of a supermajority of voters, according to a new poll released by the Associated Industries of Florida … 70 percent of likely general election voters were in favor of Amendment 3, also known as the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment. Only 15 percent of voters said they were planning to vote against the amendment on Election Day, with the other 15 percent of voters presumably undecided. The new measure shows the anti-gambling expansion amendment has the same level of support as it did at the first of the month. The new results also continue a streak of positive results for Amendment 3, which would give Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@SenatorGainer: It’s unbelievable. Hard to wrap your mind around it even when you see it in person. I think we are all kinda trying to come to terms. My hearts hurts for our district, and it’s people. Lots of work to be done. Thank God we are workers!
—@KarlEtters: Franklin County Property Appraiser told me nearly ALL ground level houses from Carrabelle to Lanark are demolished. On Alligator Point, about 50 percent of the homes to the east of the road washout are severely damaged. Bc of erosion, people are not going to be able to rebuild
—@HatterLynn: Update: Liberty County. Schools canceled until further notice. Also note, Gadsden and Jackson as well. Jackson says schools might be able to open no earlier than November 1st.
—@MarcACaputo: Gadsden County Public Schools wins the award for Most Heartless District in Florida County is 83% W/OUT POWER, but teachers (among the lowest paid in low-paying FL) must go to work tomorrow. Teachers have kids. There’s no daycare. Some have home damage
—@FLMolly: The bitching I’m seeing on Facebook from people who haven’t had power for a whole 3 days is astounding. This from the same crowd that’s always accusing people of being weak & wanting a handout & lecturing folks on pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Self-reliance my ass.
—@FLCourts: The Florida Supreme Court this week will begin issuing retroactive orders extending legal deadlines missed because of #HurricaneMichael. It is not necessary for litigants or attorneys to file motions for extensions for these time periods.
—@MCIMaps: For record. Because people won’t stop asking me. Scott did NOT get a notable #FLSEN polling bump from Irma. He got a bigger bump when he dominated the airwaves, which he no longer does. This is also a much more regional of a hurricane. We don’t have any new polls yet #flapol
—@ElectionSmith: Nearly 1,000 Floridians have returned VBM ballots without a signature. Nearly 900 more had another error with their returned VBM. These voters *should* be notified by their SOE to complete and return a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure” Affidavit.
— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —
— DAYS UNTIL —
MLB World Series begins — 8; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 9; Early voting begins — 12; Halloween — 16; General Election Day — 22; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 33; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 36; Thanksgiving — 38; Black Friday — 39; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 43; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 57; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 120; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 141; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 144; 2020 General Election — 750.
— TOP STORIES —
“Hurricane Michael could play role in Senate, Governor’s races” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — The name Hurricane Michael won’t be on the ballot, but one of the most powerful storms ever to hit Florida could play a pivotal role in the state’s biggest election contests. … Rick Scott, who is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, dominated the airwaves before the hurricane’s Wednesday landfall … Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum is mayor of Tallahassee, a city sideswiped by Michael and still reeling from downed trees and power outages. Like Scott, Gillum got plenty of TV face time before the storm, sounding warnings and looking on top of preparations — lately even wielding a chainsaw to help with neighborhood cleanup. Both men now, though, stare into an unknown — the storm’s aftermath — as the Nov. 6 election approaches.
“Citing Hurricane Michael, Andrew Gillum says he will return to campaign trail Thursday, missing first debate” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Gillum will remain off the campaign trail until Thursday and miss the first scheduled debate against Ron DeSantis, he announced Saturday night. … The Tallahassee mayor … said that he would remain focused on his city duties through Wednesday’s city commission meeting, meaning he would not participate in the debate scheduled Tuesday in Orlando. … “Over the past several days I have been unable to participate in dozens of campaign events, and this week that will include our participation in the debate sponsored by Telemundo 31 Orlando” … “We will work diligently to ensure Telemundo and its audience are represented in the two scheduled debates and other possible forums.”
— THE DEVASTATION —
“Officials fear Michael’s death toll will rise” via Russ Bynum and Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — So far, one body has been found in Mexico Beach, but authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise. Crews with dogs went door-to-door Saturday in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, “hasty” search of the area. About 1,700 search and rescue personnel have checked 25,000 homes, Gov. Scott said. “Everything is time-consuming,” said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue task force. “You don’t want to put a rush on a thorough rescue.” More roads were passable along the storm-ravaged coast as crews cleared downed trees and power lines, but traffic lights remained out, and there were long lines at the few open gas stations.
“’It’s all gone’: Tiny beach town nearly swept away by Michael” via Patricia Sullivan, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Annie Gowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Mexico Beach — population 1,072 — the devastation was nearly unfathomable. The public pier had washed away. Entire blocks of houses were wiped clear off their foundations. The town’s landmark El Governor Motel was gutted, its heated pool and Tiki Bar a pile of detritus, colorful beach umbrellas shredded and upended. The popular RV park looked like a junkyard. Beach houses were pulled off their pilings. Toucan’s, a favorite seafood restaurant, lay in ruin. As the National Guard arrived, Thomas Jett was out surveying the town after he weathered the storm there with this dog. He had waited too long to evacuate and then had to turn back when his van was nearly blown off the road. “There’s not a word in the dictionary to explain how bad it was,” Jett said. “It’s like the end of the world … it’s amazing anybody’s still alive, still standing … In the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. It’s horrible.”
“For a struggling oyster town, Michael may be one misery too many” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Calamity is familiar to Florida’s dwindling colony of oystermen, a rugged crew that has defiantly remained on Apalachicola Bay as its estuary has suffered the decimating effects of overharvesting, an oil spill, the loss of fresh water and, at times, stubborn drought. But the new ruin brought by Hurricane Michael felt like one misfortune too many in this postcard-perfect town where locals have only just begun to grapple with the extent of the storm’s damage to the industry that once drove the local economy, which had already been struggling to survive. “First you couldn’t get oysters,” said Kevin Ward, 40, whose family’s wholesale seafood facility 13 miles out of town was partly destroyed by the storm. “Now we get hit by this.”
“Hurricane leaves children dealing with trauma, parents struggling to restore stability” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — Louisiana State University pediatrics and psychiatry professor Joy Osofsky was on a team of mental health professionals that embedded into school districts to support students who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Children experience trauma depending on the impact of the hurricane and depending on their situation and how the family is able to deal with it as well,” Osofsky said. Parents should use terms appropriate for their children’s age to explain the situation, and why they may have to leave home, Osofsky said. “For the younger children the families should explain to them in a developmentally appropriate way so they can understand what’s happened and that everything will eventually will be all right,” Osofsky said. For older children, such as high school students, the impact of being disconnected from their friends during or after a hurricane can be large, Osofsky said.
“Officials confirm nearly 3,000 inmates evacuated because of prison damages” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Some 2,600 inmates were evacuated from Gulf Correctional Institution and Annex in Wewahitchka. An additional 305 inmates were evacuated from parts of Calhoun Correctional Institution in Blountstown. The department said the facilities “sustained significant damage to roofs and security infrastructure” but reiterated that “staff and inmates were not injured during the storm” and “all inmates … had access to food and drinking water through the duration of the storm.” Those assurances, particularly of food and water access, were contested throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Michael by the loved ones of incarcerated people who were hearing information to the contrary from their husbands, sons and significant others. Of particular concern was the quality of drinking water at multiple facilities recovering from the storm, where inmates told loved ones they were instructed to drink the tap water “at their own risk.”
Just take him out and shoot ’em — “Sheriff: Man molested 6-year-old girl at hurricane shelter” via The Associated Press — News outlets report 60-year-old John Stapleton was arrested Thursday on charges including lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under 12. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies say the attack happened at a Crestview middle school that was turned into temporary housing for shelter from Hurricane Michael. Deputies say a witness reported seeing a video of the homeless man touching a child in inappropriately underneath her clothing. They say authorities found the video and Stapleton admitted to touching the girl, though says it was “not in a lewd manner.”
— THE RECOVERY —
“Donald Trump to visit Panhandle” via The Associated Press — Trump plans to visit Florida and Georgia on Monday to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. First lady Melania Trump will accompany Trump. The White House isn’t identifying areas the president will visit. At a campaign rally Saturday in Kentucky, Trump praised individuals involved in the massive recovery effort and pledged that “we will not rest until the job is done.”
“FEMA focused on ‘sustaining life’ in short-term after Michael” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News-Journal — The nation’s storm recovery system is working well after Hurricane Michael, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but because of the scope of the devastation, it will be a long time before impacted communities find a new normal. Long and Gov. Scott stopped at St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City for Sunday service, and Long gave a brief update on what FEMA was doing to help residents affected by one of the most devastating storms in the nation’s history. “FEMA is rapidly trying to meet the demands the governor puts forward when it comes to sustaining life, but in some cases, because of the (severity of the) hit, we’re still focusing on search and rescue in some of the areas like Mexico Beach to make sure we leave no stones unturned and we’re getting to anybody that may be trapped,” Long said.
“Gulf Power eyes Oct. 24 for power restoration to Panama City, Youngstown, Lynn Haven, Parker and Callaway” via the Panama City News-Herald — Gulf Power is hoping to have power restored to Downtown Panama City, Lynn Haven Parker, Callaway and Youngstown by midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Panama City Beach west of Highway 79 is estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 14. Panama City Beach east of Highway 79 to the Hathaway Bridge is estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 15. Areas north of I-10 in Bonifay and Chipley, and all Caryville and Campbellton are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 17. Vernon, Sunny Hills and the surrounding areas south of I-10 are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 18. Customers who live in the Cypress and Apalachee areas with a mailing address of Sneads, Florida, served by Gulf Power, are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 19.
“Bill Nelson: Tyndall Air Force Base to be rebuilt” via The Associated Press — Nelson visited the military base just days after Hurricane Michael tore across the region. The Florida Democrat said that older buildings on the base were demolished, while newer structures need substantial repair. He also said that some of the hangars were damaged severely. Nelson, who sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said that fears that Tyndall will close are in his opinion “unfounded.” He said that Tyndall is in a strategic location for its training missions. The base was home to some of the nation’s most advanced fighter jets, but Nelson said he could not comment on how many planes were on the base during the storm or how many were damaged.
“Tired, hopeful neighbors gather for Sunday mass in Quincy” via Marina Brown of the Tallahassee Democrat — There was no soaring organ music at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Quincy four days after deadly Hurricane Michael raked the small town. And if truth be told, the parishioners’ voices raised in an a capella hymn sounded a little tired. Yet they were there. Nearly 100 worshippers reflecting the town’s diversity — Hispanic, white and black, joined together in the sanctuary, which like most other buildings in Quincy, was still without power. Father Paschal Chester and Father Michael Somer were there as well, sharing with others their own stories of surviving the storm. “I am here only three months from Ghana,” said Chester. “We don’t have hurricanes in my country. But here neighbors suddenly felt like old friends as we began the cleanup.”
“Back to school: FSU reopens Monday” via Florida Politics — Get ready to crack those books again, kids: Florida State University says it will reopen its main Tallahassee campus Monday morning. Classes will resume, and the main campus is expected to be fully operational, a statement said: “All faculty and staff should expect to return to normal schedules at 8 a.m.” While there are no power outages on the main campus, the administration “is aware that some students living off campus, as well as faculty and staff, may not yet have power in their homes.”
“State freezes insurance rates after Michael” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott directed the state’s top insurance regulator to freeze any potential property-insurance rate increases for 90 days as homeowners and businesspeople grapple with massive damage from Hurricane Michael. Scott also directed Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier to require rescinding for 90 days all policy non-renewals or cancellations that had been issued in the days leading up to Michael to give policyholders more time to find coverage. In another move, insurance policyholders will be given an extra 90 days to provide the required information to insurers. It remains too early to pinpoint the amount of damage caused by Michael. But as an indication, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America issued a preliminary estimate said insured losses could total $2 billion to $4.5 billion.
“Florida’s building code is tough, but Michael was tougher. Is it time for a rewrite?” via Andres Viglucci, David Ovalle, Caitlin Ostroff and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — The devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael may have exposed a weak spot in Florida’s lauded statewide building code, among the strongest anywhere when it comes to windstorms: Across much of the Panhandle, the rules may not be tough enough. That’s because the code’s requirements for wind resistance vary widely by location. And while they’re most rigorous in famously hurricane-prone South Florida, they taper down the farther north you move along the peninsula. To illustrate the differences: Under the statewide code, most new structures in Miami-Dade County, including homes and office buildings, must be designed to withstand winds around 175 miles an hour … Along the stretch of the Panhandle hit hardest by Michael, the design standard drops to as low as 120 miles an hour before rising gradually to 150 mph around Pensacola at the state’s far western edge.
Walt Disney Company donates $1 million to Florida Disaster Fund” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott and Volunteer Florida thanked the corporation for the timely corporate philanthropic gesture. “We are extremely thankful for Walt Disney Company’s support of the Florida Disaster Fund,” Scott said. “This funding will support disaster response and recovery efforts and help Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. This funding will go directly toward relief efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.” Disney CEO Robert Iger said the strong connection to the state of Florida inspired the donation. “All of us here at Disney have the families and communities impacted by this powerful storm in our hearts,” Iger said.
“Trulieve launches relief drive to help Panhandle neighbors” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Gadsden County-based company in a news release stressed the connection between the business and the Panhandle and Big Bend communities affected by the storm. “We’re fortunate enough to call Quincy our home and recognize that as the largest employer in the area, we have a responsibility to give back as much as we can,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “Our statewide distribution system is in place and will be collecting supplies twice per week from each store and delivering back to Quincy. We aim to help as many residents in need as possible and will continue this effort until our community has sufficiently recovered.”
“37 dogs, 9 puppies rescued from the path of Hurricane Michael by Humane Society Naples” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — All of the puppies and 19 of the dogs are sheltered with the Humane Society Naples, where they will eventually be put up for adoption. The remaining animals went to the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County. The Humane Society Naples sent four people to Tallahassee in two cargo vans “filled to the brim” with crates for the rescue animals, the Humane Society’s community affairs director Jonathan Foerster said. Tallahassee’s Animal Service Center, where the dogs had been sheltered, did not have the ability to care for animals during the storm, Foerster said.
— TOP CAMPAIGN STORY —
“Voters say they are more likely to cast ballots in this year’s midterm elections” via Scott Clement and Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Three weeks before critical midterm elections, voters are expressing significantly more interest in turning out than they were four years ago, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Enthusiasm is up across almost all demographic groups, but the increases are greater among younger adults, nonwhite voters and those who say they favor Democrats for the House. Four years ago, midterm voter turnout fell to its lowest level in more than half a century. Republicans were able to capitalize by expanding their House majority and taking control of the Senate. Today, with that GOP House majority at risk and some close Senate races that will determine who has control of that chamber in January, a 77 percent majority of registered voters say they are certain to vote next month or have already voted, up from a 65 percent majority in Post-ABC polls in October 2014.
— DESANTIS VS. GILLUM —
“Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody, Matt Caldwell run supplies to Panama City” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gubernatorial candidate DeSantis, his running mate Jeannette Nunez, Attorney General candidate Moody and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Caldwell shared pictures and video today as they gathered supplies in Live Oak and ran them up to Bay County. DeSantis shared a video on Twitter explaining the need to help individuals struck by the storm. He said two U-Haul trucks filled with water, food and other supplies now accompany his campaign team up north. “Michael was really a devastating storm,” he said. “It walloped those areas, so people need assistance now.”
We’re headed to the Panhandle with a group of volunteers to deliver supplies to those devastated by Hurricane Michael. Florida is strong and resilient, and together, we will recover. #floridastrongpic.twitter.com/i5OppcjeIa
“Anti-Andrew Gillum ads continued during hurricane, even as Democrats pulled spots” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Republican ads hitting Gillum ran hundreds of times this week in a market in the path of Hurricane Michael, even amid calls to avoid negative campaigning as the Panhandle was battered by the storm. Florida Democratic Party-funded ads, on the other hand, were paused by the party in media markets facing potential impact from Michael. The RPOF made similar requests but waited until later in the week — including one case where it called for ads to cease roughly 30 minutes before the storm made landfall. It’s considered traditional in hurricane-rich Florida for campaigns to cease overt political activity during major storms. Former Gov. Jeb Bush called for a cease-fire on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as the storm approached: “My only hope is that in the midst of a campaign season, people need to put their arms down and stop the advertising, stop the campaigning, at least in the affected areas, and help their fellow man.”
“Chicago billionaire fuels $8M week for DeSantis” via Florida Politics — … which goes down as his most prolific fundraising week of the election cycle. DeSantis raised nearly $1.2 million in hard money, including 125 contributions for the maximum campaign donation of $3,000. In all, his report showed more than 7,500 contributions with two-thirds of those donors chipping in $50 or less. The rest of the monster haul came in through DeSantis’ affiliated PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which posted more than $7 million in receipts during the reporting period covering Sept. 29 through Oct. 5. Kenneth C. Griffin was responsible for the vast majority of that haul. Griffin is a Chicago-based investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist who is also serving as the national finance chair for New Republican PAC, the political committee fueling Gov. Scott‘s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Nelson. Griffin cut DeSantis a check for $5 million on Oct. 3.
“On the number one issue on Floridians’ minds DeSantis still is mostly mute” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — For starters, Gillum has a health care plan. DeSantis does not. At least none he is ready to talk much about three weeks before Election Day. This is striking for several reasons. One, DeSantis and his running mate Nunez have been saying for more than a month they were just about to release their health care plan. Two, Gillum is making health care a central part of his agenda, even if his expanding Medicaid and “Medicare-for-all” proposals have a snowball’s chance in Boca. Democrats are attacking DeSantis as a threat to voters’ access to health care, and the Republican nominee is barely pushing back. Three, health care is about the most important policy issue on the minds of Floridians. Google’s analysis of the most searched political topics in Florida over the past week: In more than 60 of 67 counties, health care was number one.
“Police union backs DeSantis, bashes Gillum as anti-cop over Dream Defenders ties” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The union representing sheriff’s deputies in Florida’s second-largest county endorsed DeSantis and bashed Gillum as “hostile toward law enforcement” for signing a pledge from a leftist group that calls police officers racists. Called “The Freedom Pledge,” the document was created by the Dream Defenders organization and specifically targets the National Rifle Association and the Florida-based GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company. But the pledge also singles out police in calling for less criminal justice spending and more money for schools and social services. Jeff Bell, president of the Republican-leaning Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said the Dream Defenders’ pledge and its broader platform disqualified Gillum. “This is a blatant attack on our law enforcement community, an insult to the citizens we work to protect, and dishonors the memory of our fallen officers,” Bell said in a statement.
“DeSantis now refers to reporters as Gillum’s ‘fake News allies’” via Colin Wolf of Orlando Weekly — In a fundraising email, the Republican stated that Gillum and his “Fake News allies” are “pouring over our end-of-quarter report for the last 12 days looking for any weakness they can exploit in the final days of the election.” (Ed. note: that’s spelled “poring,” Ron.) Well, yeah. Poring over how a candidate spends money and who gives them money is a big part of the job description of a politics reporter.
“Gillum couldn’t campaign due to Hurricane Michael. So Bill de Blasio stepped in” via Jimena Tavel and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — New York City Mayor de Blasio walked into the Miami Gardens campaign office of Gillum, pumping his fist into the air and hailing Gillum’s rallying cry — “bring it home.” Gillum couldn’t visit South Florida this weekend. The candidate, who’s also the mayor of Tallahassee, was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in North Florida. So a prominent Democrat whose name constantly pops up in discussions about 2020 presidential contenders would have to do instead. “It’s nothing like having Andrew here, obviously, but if other people can step in, it helps,” De Blasio said. “I think anytime a candidate has other responsibilities it’s important for surrogates to step up.”
“DeSantis surrogate suggests Gillum would veto security funds for Jewish day schools” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — While introducing DeSantis to a crowd at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Randy Fine, the only Republican Jewish lawmaker in the Florida Legislature, suggested Gillum might ignore a relatively new law banning the state government from doing business with companies that support a boycott of the nation of Israel. And then Fine mentioned that, over the past two years, the state of Florida has allocated $2.65 million to fund security at Jewish day schools. “Here’s what I want you to know: When we pass a law it has to be overturned for it to go away. But when it comes to funding, the governor every single year has the ability to line-item veto that funding,” Fine said. “So, if we have $2 million in the budget next year to make sure Jewish children who go to Jewish schools are safe even though they are Jewish, which one of the candidates running for governor do we believe would sign that into law and which one do we believe might veto that? That is a decision that is at stake.”
Assignment editors — Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Chris King joins Congresswoman Kathy Castor and local community members to highlight DeSantis’ lack of a health care plan, 11 a.m., outside of the Hillsborough County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“Giant ad buy rips Rick Scott and his Navy cap” via Adam Smith the Tampa Bay Times — VoteVets, a Democratic-leaning veterans’ advocacy group backing Nelson, is spending $4 million for a tough ad accusing Scott of ripping off the military’s health care company when he led a health care conglomerate. The ad will run 10 days in every media market. It features Navy veteran Alan Madison of Vero Beach sporting his own blue Navy cap suggesting that Scott does not deserve to wear the cap he so frequently does. Scott enlisted in the Navy in 1979 and served 29 months, finishing as a radar technician. “Governor, this hat represents what the Navy stands for; honor, integrity,” Madison says to the camera. “My question for you, sir? Where’s yours?”
“Scott campaign demands TV stations pull ad critical of education record” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Scott’s campaign issued a letter criticizing a Senate Majority PAC ad critical of Scott’s education record, claiming its contention that Scott cut state general revenue funds for education is “a blatant manipulation of the facts.” The ad, “Cuts,” says Scott cut $1.3 billion from K-12 education, which did happen in 2011, according to PolitiFact. But the Scott campaign says that is different from cuts to general revenue funds and was due to federal decline in education funding in 2011 and 2012. PolitiFact also called the cause and effect of corporations receiving tax breaks and the education cuts, “murkier than the ad lets on.”
The red and blue-green algae outbreaks could compel Floridians to the polls on Election Day, POLITICO Magazine’s MichaelGrunwaldwrites, and could swing the outcome of one of the closest-watched races in 2018.
Gov. Scott can’t help but get “tagged” with responsibility for the worsening algae problems. “Scott has argued that the saltwater red tides are a natural occurrence, which is true but somewhat beside the point, because pollution makes them much worse.”
Don’t meme me: #RedTideRick is the digital expression of how some Floridians feel. A Miami filmmaker has gone as far as tweeting out spoofs of VISIT FLORIDA ads, mocking the Governor and the state’s tourism industry.
Who’s to blame?: When he took office in 2011, “Scott was gutting the budgets and staffs of state environmental agencies and water management districts.” He’s been faulted in part because the worst of the outbreaks have occurred under his tenure. But Scott’s campaign team suggests Nelson should share the blame by the same standard.
We’re different: “In surveys, Americans rarely cite the environment as a top priority, even though most voters support strict environmental regulations,” writes Grunwald. “But nature is so intimately connected to Florida’s economy and culture that green issues can tilt elections here.”
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“We asked Florida candidates if they’ve smoked marijuana. Here’s what they said.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Asked if she has ever used marijuana, Nikki Fried wasn’t coy about it. “Of course, I have,” the agriculture commissioner candidate and marijuana lobbyist said. Four of the 12 candidates acknowledged prior marijuana use, including Gillum. “Many years ago,” his spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said. Gillum has advocated for legalizing marijuana and taxing it. Five candidates said they have never smoked. Three wouldn’t respond, all Republicans: DeSantis, his running mate Núñez and Moody, the candidate for Attorney General. Fried’s Republican opponent in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, Caldwell acknowledged past usage as well: “I have tried cannabis, however, it’s not for me.” Rep. Sean Shaw, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General said he has smoked too but added: “It does not shape my views at all.” Nelson said he has never smoked but said if a doctor believes that’s the best way to treat a patient, the state shouldn’t stand in the way. Of the Florida cabinet positions, only the race for Chief Financial Officer featured two candidates who said they have never used marijuana.
— MORE NOTES —
Nancy Soderberg raises more than $1M in Q3 — Soderberg enters the final stretch of the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District with over $2.5 million total raised and over 8,500 contributions this cycle, the majority of which are $100 or under. Soderberg’s campaign says her fundraising numbers reflect multiple polls showing the race is a dead heat, including a poll from last week showing Soderberg and Republican opponent Mike Waltz statistically tied, with data projecting undecided voters are moving toward Soderberg.
“Brian Mast ad hits Lauren Baer over response to 9/11” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican U.S. Rep. Mast is going after Baer over an article Baer wrote while attending Harvard which criticized American foreign policy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The pair is currently competing in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Mast’s new minute-long ad, titled “Sacrifice,” features former New York City police officer John Napolitano discussing the death of his son, a New York City firefighter with FDNY Rescue 2. Napolitano then hammers Baer, assailing her criticism. “On Sept. 11, 2001, my son John was one of the heroes never recovered,” Napolitano begins. “When I got to the Trade Center, I wrote a big message in the ash to my son. I wrote, ‘Rescue 2, John Napolitano. I’m here and I love you. Dad.’ I thought to myself, that if he was looking down on me, I was telling him that I loved him,” Napolitano says through tears.
“Baer the ‘clear’ choice in CD 18, says new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Baer is out with a new campaign ad arguing she’s the best candidate to address environmental issues in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The ad, titled “Clear,” tackles the recent algae blooms in particular. Baer argues Mast hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of those blooms throughout the coast. “In this election, we have a clear choice to protect our water and economy,” the ad’s narrator begins. “Since Brian Mast has been in Congress, he’s taken over $80,000 from polluters, and consistently voted to eliminate protections for our water. The algae crisis has gotten worse. Our water and economy can’t take another two years of Brian Mast.”
“Donna Shalala in trouble in CD 27, new poll shows” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy shows Shalala trailing in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. That’s according to a report from POLITICO. The poll was conducted Oct. 1 to 6 among 625 likely voters on behalf of Telemundo 51. It showed 44 percent of voters behind Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar, while 42 percent supported Shalala. Mayra Joli, the Trump-supporting third-party candidate, polled at just 1 percent. The Democrat’s deficit was well within the poll’s margin of error of 4 percentage points. But it’s another sign that Shalala’s position in the race is not as strong as Democrats had hoped.
“New Maria Elvira Salazar ad: ‘Our environment’ depends on this election” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Salazar, the Republican candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a new ad touting her “vow” to fight for environmental protection in Congress. Salazar has attempted to cast herself as a moderate on the environment. She recently told the Miami Herald she would be open to a carbon tax proposal put forward by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th Congressional District. His own party swiftly rejected his efforts. The Republican’s new 30-second ad echoes those comments, as she competes against Democratic nominee Donna Shalala.
“Tom Wright’s wealth was plus for GOP choosing him as candidate to replace Dorothy Hukill in Senate race” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — The selection of Wright, a New Smyrna Beach business owner, as the new Republican candidate is the latest twist in an unusual Florida Senate race in District 14. The incumbent Republican in Senate District 14, Hukill of Port Orange, announced on Sept. 28 that she was pulling out of the race because of an “aggressive recurrence” of cervical cancer. Four days later, she died. That set up a process that rarely comes into play under which six party leaders from the two counties that are part of the district — Brevard and Volusia — met to pick a replacement. In an interview after his selection, Wright told FLORIDA TODAY: “I hope to do right by Dorothy Hukill and take what she did and build upon it.” Wright oversees his two Minnesota-based businesses from New Smyrna Beach. One makes air-supplied respiratory protection equipment and the other makes compressed air filter products.
“Margaret Good-Ray Pilon Sarasota state House race is a key bellwether contest” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Before Good’s victory in HD 72, Democrats hadn’t won a legislative race in Sarasota or Manatee counties — other than for an overwhelmingly-Democratic district that stretches down from St. Petersburg — since 2008. Whether the freshman state representative can continue to generate support will say something about whether Democrats have found a message that resonates locally. Trump carried HD 72 by more than four percentage points, but Good won it by seven percentage points in the February special election, a major shift that marked the district as a key swing seat and a bellwether for the broader political climate.
“In this House race, Republican challenger hopes to become #TheRealJavier” via Rene Rodriguez and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — In the race for HD 114, as some voters in the district head to the polls for the fourth time in the last six months to elect their state representative, they may be asking themselves: Will the real Javier please stand up? Newly minted state Rep. Javier Enrique Fernandez faces a challenge from rookie candidate Javier Enriquez. Only five months after beating a well-connected and better-funded opponent, Fernandez now faces a more amicable challenge from an opponent armed with a unique strength — a name so similar voters might not know one from the other beyond the “D” and “R” placed next to their names on the ballot. And yet, both candidates have taken to using the hashtag #TheRealJavier on social media.
“Miami commissioner moves $100K from aborted bid for Congress to re-election PAC” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Miami Commissioner Ken Russell’s got a brand-new bag … of campaign cash. This summer, months after aborting his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Russell moved $100,000 from his congressional campaign committee into a state-registered PAC supporting his reelection to the city commission. The six-figure move is perfectly legal, if not common. Russell said he contacted all his donors after withdrawing from the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District in order to ask whether they wanted their money returned, donated to a charity or were comfortable leaving it in his hands to use in his political endeavors. “Every dollar that’s in that state PAC has expressly been stated by the donor that I can use it for any of those purposes,” he said.
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida tourism industry sees resiliency tested in Michael, water quality crises” via Laura Ruane of the Fort Myers News-Press — Devastating hurricanes, dead fish on the beaches and green slime in canals and rivers: Florida’s No. 1 industry just can’t catch a break. Now Hurricane Michael — a near-Cat 5 storm that pounded Panama City and reduced Mexico Beach to rubble — is again testing the state’s tourism industry. Can it recover? “I’m not sure if it’s because there have been more crises, but VISIT FLORIDA’s crisis response has stepped up,” said Nerissa Okiye, Martin County’s tourism marketing manager. “The industry comes together when things like hurricanes happen, so experienced people from around the state help each other.” State tourism leaders are grieving with residents and businesses over the losses in human life and property. But they’re convinced the industry has the right stuff to rebound stronger than ever.
“Interviews scheduled for state Supreme Court vacancies” via Florida Politics — A review panel announced Friday it had decided to interview all 59 applicants for three upcoming Florida Supreme Court vacancies. The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will meet Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in Miami, and again Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Tampa. “This schedule will position the Florida Supreme Court JNC to certify nominations at the earliest on Nov. 10 or sometime thereafter to give the Governor and Governor-elect ample time to do their vetting and minimize the time that these three judicial vacancies remain unfilled,” a news release said. The South Florida interviews will take place at the Miami International Airport Hotel; the Tampa interviews will be held at the Airport Executive Center.
Happening today — The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a public-records lawsuit about whether Gov. Scott should be required to turn over his calendar to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been locked in a battle with the state about Medicaid contracts, 2 p.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.
“Mini riot at Taylor Correctional Institution; staff and inmates injured” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The melee is at least the fourth time since August in which inmates reportedly attacked officers and staff at the prison in Perry, 60 miles southeast of Tallahassee. Thursday’s riot resulted in some officers receiving medical treatment for non-life-threatening injuries. Several inmates were also treated — one was sent to an outside facility for medical attention. One inmate involved in the disturbance had been transferred to Florida State Prison Friday, the morning after the inmates allegedly launched the attack. The Taylor medium-security facility houses 1,400 adults and opened in 1994. In recent years, the tension between staff and inmates have simmered and occasionally boiled into violence.
“Gambling divides the politics of the family behind the Fontainebleau and Aventura Mall” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The senior partners in the Turnberry real estate empire have carved out their own lucrative fiefdoms within the family business: JeffSoffer running Miami Beach’s largest resort, the Fontainebleau, an oceanfront hotel with its own casino ambitions; and JackieSoffer running the county’s largest shopping destination, the Aventura Mall. During the last decade, the Fontainebleau has paid Tallahassee lobbyists to try and expand gambling in Florida and bring a casino to its oceanfront location. In January, news broke that Jeff Soffer was purchasing the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. At the time, Soffer emphasized his purchase of the casino and racetrack was made on his own, separate from his family’s holdings under the Turnberry umbrella. That distinction would become notable in the coming months, when his sister and other developers bid on the Miami Beach hotel project, under rules the city inserted into the deal contract that bans any bidder from also owning a casino in Miami-Dade.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Marco Rubio: No ‘business as usual’ with Saudi Arabia” via Kelsey Tamborrino of POLITICO — Rubio said the U.S. should not continue with “business as usual” in response to Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Rubio did not think Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should attend an upcoming economic summit in Saudi Arabia. “I don’t think he should go,” the Florida Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t think any of our government officials should be going and pretending as it’s business as usual until we know exactly what’s happened here.” Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, has not been seen since entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month. Turkey claims Khashoggi was murdered there. Rubio told host Jake Tapper the United States’ response to Khashoggi’s disappearance should be strong, and “not just symbolic.”
— OPINIONS —
“Changing the trajectory of tragedy after Hurricane Michael” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — Hurricanes can destroy our literal tents — our homes and businesses. And even our physical lives. But the underlying terror is that they destroy our normalcy, our foundations, our true selves. And compounding the fear is the totally random nature of where these storms strike. Wednesday’s historic hurricane brought awe — of nature’s power and fury, of the destruction that was caused. It also brought an arc of ruin — from the most severe at the storm’s epicenter, Mexico Beach, through areas impacted by storm surge, such as Apalachicola and St. Marks, to inland areas hit with tree-induced power outages. Even in that last category, there were levels of destruction — from the horrible inconvenience of a 95-percent power outage in Tallahassee to the epic destruction of infrastructure in areas to the west, such as Liberty and western Gadsden counties. How do we reconcile this trajectory of tragedy? We don’t.
“John Romano: Why is Florida risking future hurricane misery?” via the Tampa Bay Times — No matter what we do, that type of hurricane will leave devastation in its wake. The problem is our leaders get lax. We allow them to be forgetful. It might have begun in 2011 when the Legislature began chipping away at growth management laws. Gov. Scott obliterated the state’s growth management agency and cut funding to Regional Planning Councils. In the name of jobs and development, Florida was rolling back reforms that had been in place since the 1980s and were meant to manage and control the state’s building boom. After that, the Legislature began taking aim at those building codes that supposedly caused housing prices to rise and resulted in too much red tape. That effort culminated in a law passed last year that essentially made Florida a disinterested participant in international building standards. “Florida does have this kind of disaster amnesia,’’ said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chris Sprowls selected for fellowships” via Florida Politics — Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera and state Rep. Sprowls have been selected for The Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. The program is “designed to bring together elected officials who have demonstrated an outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions and bring greater civility to public discourse,” its website says. Lopez-Cantera and Sprowls are both Republicans. “These men and women represent the very best among the new generation of America’s political leadership,” former Congressman Mickey Edwards, the program’s director, said in announcing the new class.
“Educator uprising: FEA delegates opt for new leadership” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Teachers overthrew sitting leadership for the Florida Education Association this weekend, electing new president Fedrick C. Ingram and a slate of new officers. Ingram previously served as vice president under Joanne McCall, but in May made clear he would run against the sitting president. At the organization’s annual Delegate Assembly in Orlando, the 1,000 assembled voting members elevated him to power. “Be assured that we go forward today as a united union dedicated to the students we serve, and committed to be the strongest of advocates for the remarkable education professionals we represent,” Ingram said after his election. “We will stand up every day for our students, our communities and for our members, who devote their lives to the success of public education.” The moment was also history-making, as Ingram became the first African-American president of the FEA ever.
Ruth’s List Florida adds to executive committee — The group, which supports pro-abortion rights Democratic women candidates, took on two E.C. members with wide-ranging legal backgrounds: Longtime Orlando resident Brian Anderson, who spent many years as a patent lawyer in Washington, D.C.; and Danielle Cohen Higgins, a native of Miami, who has extensive experience in complex commercial civil litigation, and provides legal services to small businesses and the seriously injured. CEO/President PamelaGoodman said: “Our organization is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it’s not just women who are supporting our mission. Men who are feminists also support our mission. They talk the talk and walk the walk, and they deserve a seat at the leadership table of an organization they support.” Ruth’s List Florida recruits and helps pro-abortion rights Democratic women to run for public office in Tallahassee, in county commission and city council races, and for other key positions around the state.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson, Ballard Partners: 3M Company
Yolanda Jackson, Becker & Poliakoff: The Toney Watkins Company
Tracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: Kalkomey Enterprises
— ALOE —
What Frank Tsamoutales is reading — “Harris to merge with L3 in all-stock deal, creating U.S. defense giant with $34 billion market value” via Reuters — The deal is the latest example of how increased defense spending under Trump and the Republican-led Congress is driving contractors to pursue mergers so they have more scale to bid on bigger projects, spanning everything from upgrading outdated computer systems to space exploration. The all-stock deal values L3 at $15.7 billion, slightly above its market capitalization as of the end of trading Friday of $15.3 billion. The deal creates a military communications and defense electronics conglomerate with a market value of about $34 billion. The combined company, L3 Harris Technologies, Inc., will be the sixth largest defense company in the United States and a top 10 defense company globally, with approximately 48,000 employees and customers in over 100 countries, the companies said.
“Plans filed for two more hotels at Flamingo Crossings near Disney World” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — According to plans filed with Orange County on Oct. 10, a new project would build a pair of hotels on 18 acres of land south of the current development in Winter Garden. These hotels — an eight-story, 173-room Holiday Inn and a 148-room Hyatt House — would be in addition to the two hotels already open on the property and the four announced earlier this year. Orange Lake Country Club Inc., which controls the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand, is listed as the owner of the property. Orlando-based Metro Architecture Partnership will be the architect on the project.
What Paul Bradshaw is reading — “Cherry Street Pier debuts this weekend” via WHYY.org — The Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia is reopening as the city’s newest park. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation spent $5 million to transform the dilapidated shipping dock into a partially-covered public space with art installations, food vendors, a beer garden, and a performance space … The park has permanently installed 14 stacked shipping containers that have been converted into artist studios. Each has a large, plate-glass window, allowing passers-by to peer in on the resident artists at work.
“Carlos Guillermo Smith gets engaged at Orlando Pride” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, accepted an onstage engagement proposal from longtime partner Jerick Mediavilla at Orlando Come Out With Pride. Smith, Florida’s first gay Latino member of the Florida Legislature, was on stage for the annual Pride Rally at Lake Eola Park on Saturday evening when Mediavilla surprised him by getting on one knee and popping the question. The proposal took place in the Walt Disney Amphitheater, a landmark painted in the colors of the Rainbow Flag.
Happy birthday belatedly to Slater’s much-better-half, Sara Bayliss, Stephanie Rosendorf, state Sen. Lauren Book, state Rep. Shevrin Jones, and former Rep. Jimmie Smith. Celebrating today is our friend Adam Corey, as well as the world-is-his-oyster-he’s-that-good Cesar Fernandez.
Wednesday night provided a case study on how politicians should respond when a natural disaster hits their state.
Offering a shining example, former U.S. Rep. and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham was pictured volunteering at a local Red Cross shelter in Gadsden County. This is the second time in 13 months Graham and her husband helped manage a shelter set up to assist as many as 700 people.
Contrast Graham’s response with that of Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for Florida governor. Already facing criticism, including from former Governor Jeb Bush, for continuing to air negative ads against his opponent, the former congressman took to to Fox News to attack Andrew Gillum yet again.
DeSantis had earlier in the day told Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarskithat while Hurricane Michael was bearing down on Florida it was not an appropriate time to talk about the campaign. Yet here was DeSantis hours later, making a partisan play against Gillum.
It’s inexplicable what Team DeSantis was thinking when it decided it was a good idea for its candidate to appear on Fox News. Unless DeSantis was prepared to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with the number where viewers could text a donation to hurricane victims, he had no business appearing on network TV last night.
This is yet another unforced error from DeSantis — one that makes him appear insensitive, if not crass.
Contrary to what many others were arguing, I did not believe DeSantis’ negative ads needed to come down in markets not affected by the hurricane. My thinking was influenced by what a bad decision it was for John McCain to suspend his presidential campaign during the 2008 financial crisis. Rather than looking like a statesman, McCain came off as confused and ineffectual.
That’s why DeSantis was smart not to suspend his campaign. And he was doing the right thing by organizing low-key rallies where folks could donate supplies to the victims in north Florida.
But then he undoes all that by playing political pundit — the job for which he appears best suited — on Fox News.
There is no doubt that Ron DeSantis excels at being, as the Florida Democratic Party labeled him last night, a “partisan warrior.” But this latest episode raises the question: Has he demonstrated he has the leadership needed to govern the state?
Look at Gwen Graham. Look at the pictures her husband posted on Facebook. She exudes the kind of empathy we hope for in not just our leaders, but ourselves. That in moments of great consequence, we are capable of offering something of ourselves to those in need.
Look at this picture of Graham comforting a child impacted by the hurricane.
It’s hard to see that and not wonder why she’s not Florida’s next governor. But that would take away from what Gillum accomplished on the campaign trail and so that kind of question has to be put away some place.
But what can be asked is this: Why have we never seen this kind of moment from Ron DeSantis? The only time I can think of DeSantis being photographed with a child is when he made that television ad in which he taught his children about why America needed to ‘build a wall.’
Just once, it would be reassuring to see Ron DeSantis, the well-educated former naval officer, husband and father, allow his better angels to guide him on the campaign trail.
Instead, he’s listening to someone — or something inside him — that thought it best, while hundreds of thousands of Floridians were without power, to go on TV and knock his political opponent one more time.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Joe Henderson, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Watching the unfolding catastrophe Hurricane Michael brought to Panama City, it brings a familiar fear: What if this monster came up the mouth of Tampa Bay instead of veering west?
It’s a warning people need to take seriously.
If past is prologue, a storm the size and intensity of Michael washing ashore in downtown Tampa (or somewhere nearby), would bring unimaginable devastation to the densely populated Tampa Bay area, and it’s uncertain that this area can adequately prepare.
A year ago, The Washington Post reported what will happen when Tampa Bay’s century-long string of luck runs out. The World Bank says Tampa is among the 10 cities on the planet most at risk for utter devastation by a major hurricane.
It almost happened last year with Hurricane Irma, but the meteorological gods gave the area a last-minute reprieve when the storm unexpectedly wobbled ashore at Naples, knocking it down a bit.
And facing the unimaginable force generated by Michael, the only defense against a storm of that size is to evacuate. The problem in Panama City was the hurricane exploded in strength in a brief time, leaving residents and visitors little time to get out of the way.
Imagine carnage like that hitting an area of more than 3 million people, an inadequate road system, major buildup along coastlines and waterways, nowhere to run and hide.
Experts say it’s going to happen one day. The Tampa Bay-area will be under water.
They may be wrong; the fear is they aren’t.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Weinsteinlaw: Tonight @realDonaldTrump is fundraising and holding a rally in Pennsylvania while Hurricane Michael victims across Florida are still decimated. Wrong!
—@LearyReports: .@realDonaldTrump will visit Florida next week re: hurricane, WH says.
—@JDiamond1: Trump in Oval tells reporters he plans to host missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi‘s fiancee at the White House soon. Says he has talked to the Saudis but offers no new information on Khashoggi’s status.
—@jchristianminor: #Tallahassee dodged a major bullet. This could’ve been 10x what we experienced @AndrewGillum you did very well. Handled this event w/diligence, class & poise @FLGovScott per usual you made sure state had its affairs in order. I felt safe b/c of you #HurricaneMichael #FlaPol
—@COTNews: As of 9 p.m., officials have not received any reports of significant injury. Thank you to everyone who has and is heeding the advice of local officials to ensure your safety and that of our responders.
—@Rob_Bradley: Right now, brave men and women are on dangerous roads, stopping often to cut and clear, in places with no electricity, in order to reach people and save lives. Every minutes counts so they can’t wait. I’m thankful for them.
—@Shawnfor63: Tonight our family in Panama City are sleeping in their cars because their roofs are gone. But they are safe. No one hurt. Thank you God. Some families tonight are not so lucky. All of Florida is praying for them. Tomorrow we start to rebuild. Because that’s who we are.
–@BethMatuga: The Forgotten Coast has meant so much to me for the last 20 years. Warm, happy memories filled with friends & food, sun & sand. A slice of paradise running along Hwy 98. It’s why I got a place in #Carrabelle – to make more of those memories. I’m so, so sad for @franklintdc
—@TimTebow: Praying for all those being affected by #HurricaneMichael! #Floridastrong
—@MarcACaputo: If FL’s US Senate race — currently tied w/an inside-the-error-margin edge for Sen Bill Nelson — comes down to a few thousand votes in Scott’s favor, there might be a Hurricane Michael Effect Scott won in 2010 w/1.2% & 61,550 vote margin & in 2014 w/1% & 64,145 margin
—@NewsBySmiley: One commercial break. Three ads. Two on health care by Gillum and @DebbieforFL and one calling Gillum “corrupt” by RPOF
—@NewsBySmiley: Frmr Gov. @JebBush among those calling for campaign civility RN. “Campaigns should shut down the ads in the impacted areas. The exclusive focus needs to be on preparing, rescuing and recovering.”
—@kkfla737: This is one of the most dangerous days in our state’s modern history. Those playing politics today regardless of where in Florida you reside, I have nothing but lasting contempt and disdain for all of you, irrespective of party or ideology.
—@WCSOFL: “We have people who cannot exercise good sense. While it might be their constitutional right to be an idiot, it’s not their right to endanger everyone else! Their failure to be accountable becomes our problem! Get off roads & beaches!” — @SheriffAdkinson
— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —
— DAYS UNTIL —
CNN Florida midterm Senate debate — 5; CNN Florida midterm gubernatorial debate — 10; MLB World Series begins — 12; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 13; Early voting begins — 16; Halloween — 20; General Election Day — 26; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 37; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 40; Thanksgiving — 42; Black Friday — 43; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 47; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 61; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 124; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 145; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 148; 2020 General Election — 754.
— STORM NOTES —
“‘Like an atomic bomb’” via Savannah Evanoff of the Northwest Florida Daily News – Hours after Hurricane Michael devastated Bay County and its neighbors to the east, authorities were still trying to grasp the magnitude of destruction. The storm came in squarely on Tyndall Air Force Base with winds of 155 mph, causing severe damage to the base as well as the communities on either side of it. In the immediate aftermath, citizens were reporting extensive damage to numerous structures, including some that were leveled by the storm. “It looks like an atomic bomb had hit our city,” said David Barnes, a DJ in Panama City. “Damage has been widespread.” Among the heavily damaged buildings was the Panama City News Herald building on 11th Street in the city.
“Western (Panhandle) counties escape the brunt of Michael” via Wendy Victoria of the Northwest Floria Daily News – Michael largely spared Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties when it blew ashore mid-day Wednesday. The Category 4 storm toppled some trees, kicked up the surf and blew yard debris and litter onto roads, but saved its worst for North Florida communities to the east.
“Was Tallahassee lucky in its meeting with Hurricane Michael? ‘A resounding yes’” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – The city, a virtual ghost town because of shuttered state offices and businesses, girded for the possibility of widespread destruction, impassable roads and prolonged power outages. However, Tallahassee appeared to have escaped some of the more dire predictions of cataclysmic weather. “Do we feel a little lucky about where we are right now?” asked Leon County Administrator Vince Long. “I think given the magnitude of this storm, the answer is a resounding yes.”
“I-10 closed for 80 miles in both directions for Michael cleanup” via the Tallahassee Democrat – The historic impact of Category 4 Hurricane Michael has forced the closure of a long stretch of Interstate 10 in Northern Florida as crews work to clear debris. The interstate has been shut down in at least 16 counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson. … It is not clear at this time how long I-10 will remain closed.
“Strike teams ready to aid Franklin County” via Heather Osbourne of the Panama City News Herald – Approximately 50 emergency strike teams are waiting for an “all clear” to swarm Franklin County Thursday to begin damage assessments and perform welfare checks on the residents who stayed behind. Pam Brownell, Franklin County Emergency Management director, said Duke Energy will be the first sent into Franklin County Thursday to deactivate live wires before sending in other emergency crews. The Franklin County Emergency Operation Center received reports throughout the day Wednesday, Brownell said, of downed trees and power lines. One report stated a tree had fallen on top of a home in Caravelle. “We’ve got people out here riding around and walking,” Brownell said Wednesday evening. “That’s highly dangerous. People need to stay inside. If they don’t listen there will be fatalities.” The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will enforce a dusk to dawn curfew until further notice, according to Sheriff A.J. Smith. Violators of the curfew will be arrested.
“DonaldTrump: Hurricane Michael grew ‘into a monster’” via Rebecca Morin with Matthew Choi of POLITICO Florida — “This started out very innocently a week ago. This was a small storm in an area; they never thought it was going to grow into a monster,” Trump said. FEMA Administrator Brock Long said Michael was identified Saturday and was flagged as a storm that could “go from the wave to the depression and potentially could rapidly intensify.” He added that states around the Gulf of Mexico coast usually have less time to prepare with hurricanes formed there. Michael was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane overnight … Trump authorized a state of emergency in Florida for Michael, and Gov. RickScott said there are up to 3,500 members of the National Guard and more than 1,000 rescue workers to respond to the storm. “One of the things that must be said is that it is not so easy for some of the people to leave,” Trump said. “Some of the areas are very poor.”
>>>Trump acknowledged the hurricane at the top of his rally in Erie, offering his “thoughts and prayers” to those in the storm’s path and promising to “spare no effort” in the response. He promised to travel to Florida “very shortly.” He added: “We will always pull through. … We will always be successful at what we do.”
“Fast, furious: How Michael grew into a 155-mph monster” via Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press — Hurricane Michael was barely a hurricane Tuesday morning, with winds of 90 mph. A little over a day later, it had transformed into a monster. When it made landfall, it was blowing at 155 mph. That’s a 72 percent increase in wind speed in less than 33 hours. “Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said. Hurricanes have something called a potential intensity. That’s how strong a storm can get if all other factors are aligned. Michael had nothing holding it back. Meteorologists first got a sense something big could be happening by watching how Michael’s eye changed shape. Early Tuesday, it was oddly shaped and ragged. Later in the morning it started to get better organized, and by Tuesday night real-time satellite imagery was showing the eye getting stronger and scarier by the minute. Another factor: Its pressure, the measurement meteorologists use to gauge a hurricane’s strength. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Before landfall, Michael’s pressure fell so low it looked like the winds were sure to pick up fast, said Ryan Maue, a meteorologist for weathermodels.com.
“Florida shifts to search and rescue after Michael” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — At least 388,000 utility customers lost power as Hurricane Michael crashed ashore — with potentially catastrophic winds of 155 mph — between Panama City and St. Vincent Island, before speeding north into Alabama and Georgia. The Category 4 storm created storm surges up to 14 feet in areas, inflicted damages across Tyndall Air Force Base east of Panama City and spawned at least two “devastating” tornadoes in Gadsden County. The monster hurricane was the most powerful ever recorded to hit the Panhandle and was on par with Hurricanes Irma, which swept across Florida in September 2017, and Andrew, which devastated Homestead in 1992. Addressing the media at the state Emergency Operations Center Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Scott said a “massive wave of response” was already underway from the state, utilities and the U.S. Coast Guard, for the storm that “came really fast.” “We’re sending them out now,” Scott said.
“Jimmy Patronis: Insurance companies need to move quickly to help Floridians hit by Hurricane Michael” via the Florida Daily – Patronis and state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier held a call with representatives of insurance companies on Monday as residents of the Panhandle and Big Bend readied for the hurricane. After the call, Patronis weighed in on the topics he addressed. “I put Florida’s insurance industry on notice that I expect that they will be ready to serve Florida families after Hurricane Michael,” Patronis said. “We’ll do everything possible to protect residents throughout the entire post-storm process. Sen. Marco Rubio has already reached out to me to partner once again on emergency insurance villages to directly help with filing claims. Recovery must be easy and fast so that Floridians can get back to normal as quickly as possible.”
“NBC reporter Kerry Sanders nearly blown away by wind gust during Hurricane Michael” via WFLA — Sanders has been reporting from Panama City Beach, just a few miles from where Michael made landfall. It was a Category 4 when it hit, with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. As Sanders struggled to stay on his feet, Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel stepped in to help. He and Sanders made their way to a large pole of some type; then Sanders was able to move to safety as the wind gusts died down.
As Michael approaches, Matt Gaetz heads to D.C. — POLITICO Playbook reported spotting Gaetz (on a Tuesday flight from Orlando to D.C.), even as Michael makes way toward his district. On Twitter, Gaetz boasted he flew coach: “[Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein was supposed to come for an interview in Judiciary tomorrow about discussing wearing a wire to overthrow the President. It seemed like something that required my attention. I was advised this morning that now he won’t be coming. #LowEnergyOversight”
Rosenstein was supposed to come for an interview in Judiciary tomorrow about discussing wearing a wire to overthrow the President. It seemed like something that required my attention. I was advised this morning that now he won’t be coming. #LowEnergyOversighthttps://t.co/ORlhrKFMSQ
“Unprecedented storm could mean rebuilding” — Gulf Power is looking at the possibility that its system may have to be rebuilt in the hardest hit areas. Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesperson, says: “In the hardest hit areas, the possibility exists that we will be rebuilding our system while we are restoring power. Customers in the high impact areas could be without power for weeks. We’re estimating that 225,000 customers could be without power after Michael passes through.” More than 2,600 outside resources have been secured from at least 15 different states, as far north as Michigan and as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. Including Gulf Power’s 1,187 employees and 330 on-site contractors, that’s more than 4,100 resources ready to restore power. “Every Gulf Power employee has a storm duty, and they’re ready for this,” Rogers said. “We drill every year and crews train year-round — we’ve become very skilled in power restoration.”
Reporters in the dark — Local news reporters were working in the dark as Hurricane Michael made landfall. The News-Herald in Panama City tweeted that conditions were “getting very nasty here” as the hurricane’s eye closed in. The newsroom was running on generator power without internet access. The newspaper tweeted that reporters were feeling “crashing thunder shaking the building.” At the Panama City news station WJHG/WECP, reporter Tyler Allendertweeted that his colleagues were taking shelter in a hallway in the middle of the building because “this wind is SERIOUS.” Allender said they were sitting in the dark because their building had lost power.
We lost power here at WJHG/WECP. We are all in the hallway in the middle of our building. It hasn’t made landfall yet so the worst is still to come inland. This wind is SERIOUS. Everyone needs to hunker down. pic.twitter.com/UqD9MayAtE
Janet Cruz to hold hurricane relief supply drop-off — House Democratic Leader Cruz’s Legislative office will be accepting hurricane relief supplies to aid those in the Panhandle affected by Hurricane Michael. Residents are encouraged to drop-off relief supplies from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Suggested items include nonperishable packaged or canned foods and juices, snack foods, paper plates and plastic utensils, flashlights, batteries, new blankets, first aid kits, toiletries, baby and adult diapers, toys, books and games for children and pet care items. Cruz’s office is at 2221 North Himes Avenue, Suite B, Tampa.
— THE LATEST —
Tropical Storm Michael continues to weaken as it over eastern Georgia as it makes its way toward the Carolinas. Early Thursday, the eye of Michael was about 90 miles (144 kilometers) northeast of Macon, Georgia and 45 miles (72 kilometers) west of Augusta. The storm’s maximum sustained winds have decreased to 50 mph (80 kph) and it was moving to the northeast at 21 mph (33 kph).
The National Hurricane Center says the core of Michael will move across eastern Georgia into Central South Carolina on Thursday morning. It will then move across portions of central and eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia into the Atlantic Ocean by late Thursday or early Friday.
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“Breaking taboo, negative ads fly during Florida hurricane” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – As Hurricane Michael bore down, the Republican Party of Florida broke with that tradition and continued to air two ads bashing Ron DeSantis’ Democratic rival in the race for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, over his city’s response to a hurricane in 2016. And in the U.S. Senate race, the Democratic super PAC backing Sen. Bill Nelson began running a negative commercial in strike-zone markets calling his opponent Gov.Scott a dishonest “shady millionaire who doesn’t look out for you.” There is a major difference between the two negative ads: The Senate campaigns have no say over the super PAC ads, can’t coordinate with the group under federal law, and Nelson’s campaign said no one should be posting negative ads in the counties affected by Michael. DeSantis’ campaign, however, is governed by state law and worked side-by-side with the state GOP with its attack ad.
“Craig Fugate rebukes political attacks after Ron DeSantis rips Andrew Gillum during monster storm” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — Fugate, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and Florida Emergency Management Director, on Twitter urged DeSantis and other candidates ought to knock it off during this crisis: “I would encourage all Florida Candidates running for office to use this time to help raise funds for the @RedCross @SalArmyEDS @TeamRubicon and others part of the @NationalVOAD #HurricaneMichael #Michael #FLwx.” DeSantis brushed off a question about the appropriateness of his attack ads at this point. “You run your campaign the way you run your campaign. It is what it is,” he said.
“Miami mayors Dan Gelber, Alex Penelas blast DeSantis for ‘hurricane politics’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Miami Beach Mayor Gelber expressed shock that DeSantis would run attack ads as Panhandle residents glue themselves to TV sets for live storm updates. “This was a knowing decision to exploit one of the most fearsome storms our state is ever going to encounter,” he said. Gelber and former Miami-Dade County Mayor Penelas lambasted the decision to run ads during a conference call with reporters. “There’s clearly a time for politics, and there’s time to govern,” Penelas said. “Right now, people’s lives are literally at risk.” Gelber noted the FBI ads come on top of ads criticizing Gillum for Tallahassee’s response to Hurricane Hermine.
“Gillum wants to pay starting teachers $50,000. Could that ever happen in Florida?” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Boosting pay to the level Gillum proposes would require a heavy financial lift — a half-billion dollars a year or more, according to Florida Education Association estimates. And that’s just not something the Republican-dominated state Legislature has been willing to consider. It has had the opportunity. As both a Senator and Representative, Democrat Kevin Rader has filed his “Florida Teacher Fair Pay Act” annually since 2015. The measure, which would set a statewide minimum teacher salary at $50,000, never has received a committee hearing or a staff analysis. Incoming Senate president Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, indicated that the similar Gillum pay plan, and its attached corporate tax hike, likely would remain a nonstarter.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“As Senate race wears on, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott are getting more and more unpopular” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — According to Morning Consult surveys, both Nelson and Scott have seen their favorability numbers crater in recent months. In the last quarter of 2017, Nelson had a very healthy +25 net approval rating, according to the Morning Consult survey, which asked over 250,000 voters across the country about their senators. Fifty-one percent of voters approved of the Democrat in that survey, compared to just 26 percent who disapproved. The same survey taken during the third quarter of 2018 (July 1 through Sept. 25) found that Nelson had a negative overall favorability rating. Just 39 percent of voters approved of Nelson, compared to 41 percent who disapproved. Nelson’s popularity fell more between the second and third quarters of 2018 than any other U.S. senator. Scott also saw a precipitous drop in his popularity numbers between the second and third quarters … The Republican saw his net favorability numbers drop from plus-19 to plus-9 in that time — tied for the steepest drop of any governor.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Despite huge financial advantage, Amendment 3 supporters face challenge in securing needed 60-percent approval” via John Haughey of Watchdog.org — Amendment 3 proponents have raised nearly $40 million to promote a ballot measure that seeks to give voters “the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in Florida. Despite the overwhelming financial advantage supplied by Disney Worldwide Services and the Seminole Tribe, however, polls indicate the proposal may not secure the 60 percent majority necessary to adopt a constitutional amendment. According to a recent Florida Chamber of Commerce survey, the measure is supported by 54 percent of voters with 28 percent saying they will vote “no,” essentially leaving the issue to be determined by the 18 percent who were undecided. The good news for Amendment 3 supporters — which include the Florida Chamber and League of Women Voters — is they have a month and millions of dollars to persuade one-third of the undecided to vote yes.
“Gus Bilirakis takes credit for law he did not craft in new ad touting fight on opioids” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The 30-second ad flashes text about a “Bilirakis INTERDICT ACT” as Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco says Bilirakis is “giving us the tools to do our job and get traffickers off the street.” The INTERDICT Act, signed by Trump in January, provides funding and equipment to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for detecting imported fentanyl. But Bilirakis was neither a sponsor nor one of 18 co-sponsors, making it unclear how it is the “Bilirakis INTERDICT Act.” Campaign spokesman Towson Fraser said in an email the ad was worded that way because Bilirakis “voted for the act, it went through his committee, he participated in hearings about the need for it, and worked to support its passage.”
Happening tonight — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, 7 p.m., Carlisle Inn, 3727 Bahia Vista South, Sarasota.
“John Morgan endorses Anna Eskamani as ‘a fighter’ in HD 47 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — “I am proud to endorse Anna Eskamani for Florida State House District 47,” Morgan stated in a news release. “Anna is a fighter, always has been — always will be. Anna is for the people and has earned the support and trust of voters from all political affiliations. I know she will be a strong advocate for issues that impact everyday Floridians and will redefine what it means to be a public servant.” Morgan, the founder of the Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm and the principal backer behind Florida’s medical marijuana laws, had for a long time been a prominent Democratic fundraiser, though he has occasionally backed a Republican candidate.
“In last two months, Democrats gain voter registration advantage in Florida. Is that enough?” via Andrew Pantazi the of the Florida Times-Union — Statewide, as of Tuesday, counties had added about 213,000 new voters since the Aug. 28 primary, with Democrats making up 39 percent of those voters and Republicans making up 34 percent … it’s likely the Democratic margin will increase. Democrats generally gain a registration advantage in the last two months before an election, as Republicans are more likely to register year-round. In 2016, Democrats registered more voters than Republicans in the final two months before the election yet still lost the state by 113,000 votes. Still, a county’s change in party registration numbers for the last two months correlated with how that county voted in that presidential election.
— STATEWIDE —
“Red tide worsens in St. Lucie, improves in Martin; is Indian River County next?” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The good news for Indian River County: An algae researcher doesn’t think red tide will make it there. Comparing results of water samples taken last week with those released late Tuesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows the northward trend: St. Lucie County beaches with very low levels of red tide Oct. 1 — Dollman Park, Waveland and County Line — had medium levels Monday. One beach, Diamond Sands, jumped from having no red tide to having a medium level Monday. Other beaches that had no red tide Oct. 1 — Walton Rocks, Ocean Bay, Herman’s Bay and Normandy — had low levels Monday. All those beaches are south of the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant; beaches to the north are still red tide-free.
“Minnesota accuses Florida charity of misleading donors” via The Associated Press — The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Attorney General Lori Swanson alleges American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens, Inc., collected $425,000 in donations from thousands of Minnesotans from 2011 to 2017 for a fund to help officers’ families. Donors were told all the contributions would go to the fund. But Swanson says only 9 percent did. The Star Tribune reports the charity raised $4 million nationwide last year and spent most of that on marketing, contracts with for-profit fundraisers and salaries. The charity was also sued by Minnesota in 1996.
“Florida panther struck and killed by vehicle” via The Associated Press — It’s the 20th fatal collision this year, out of 22 total panther deaths. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the remains of the 5-year-old male were collected Sunday on a county road north of Immokalee in Collier County.
Happening tonight — Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will speak during a 40th-anniversary event of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, 6 p.m., University of South Florida St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 200 Sixth Ave. South, St. Petersburg.
— TRULIEVE CELEBRATES 20TH FLORIDA LOCATION —
Medical cannabis provider Trulieve is opening a new Sarasota outlet, its twentieth Florida location.
“With every opening, we’ve made our top priority providing safe, reliable and natural relief to the growing number of patients in the state,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “With twenty locations statewide, and more on track to open in the coming months, we will be able to bring safe and effective care to the patients who need it most, including those who may have been unable to make it to a physical location before.”
Florida limits medical marijuana licensees to only 30 locations statewide, a number Trulieve expects to hit by February 2019.
Recently, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use announced the registry surpassed 172,000 registered medical marijuana patients, with Trulieve consistently selling more than two-thirds of the state’s overall volume. There are now more than 1,700 registered ordering physicians in Florida.
To celebrate the grand opening, Trulieve will hold a news event with Rivers and Victoria Walker, Director of Community Relations, Friday at 10 a.m., 935 North Beneva Road, Sarasota. There will be tours of the new dispensary immediately following.
— OPINIONS —
“Vote no on Amendment 10: Bundling of issues detracts from a good idea” via Jennifer Carroll for the Orlando Sentinel — Basically, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is an unelected body of lobbyists, with no accountability and no checks or balances, attempting to amend our constitution with politically charged proposals that, for the most part, do not even belong in our constitution. Conducting their business under the heavy influence of special-interest groups, the CRC has put forth a multitude of confusing, intentionally misleading and suspiciously bundled amendments in an attempt to gain our support for the commission’s hidden agenda. Because of this mischief, we feel it is our obligation and duty to fairly warn Floridians about what is going on and encourage them to vote no on all CRC amendments, including Amendment 10 … a conglomerate of unrelated smoke-screen proposals designed to lull unsuspecting voters into supporting their real political objective buried deep in the same amendment.
“Dick Batchelor: Health care — all Floridians deserve it” via Orlando Rising — The reasons vary why so many people do not have health insurance, but for many, it boils down to basic math: They simply cannot afford it. So how do we change this dynamic? Fortunately, we don’t need to start over with a Medicare-for-all solution to move forward. The model that’s in place is solid. We can — and should — build on what’s already working. There is always room for improvement, but the ACA works. It’s a good foundation on which to build. Through the ACA and Medicaid expansion, we can bring health insurance to more low-income individuals. There’s no reason why Florida can’t do this. If we don’t, we risk something far greater: leaving some of our most vulnerable citizens behind.
— MOVEMENTS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Andrew Kalel: Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel Region Three
Tara Reid, Strategos Public Affairs: Teachers of Tomorrow
— ALOE —
“No claws for concern? Hurricane Michael could be good news for stone crab season.” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times – Many attribute last year’s strong start to Hurricane Irma, which hit about a month before the season opened, churning up the water and making it silty, just the way crabs prefer when they are ready to walk around in search of food. Crystal-clear water leaves them too vulnerable to predators and they stay buried and pine for the cover of dirt. “The storm will mean that there’s rough and dirty water out there that will hopefully make them crawl and look around for food,” said Kris Sahr, owner of Offshore Seafood. Sahr used to have 3,000 traps in the Tampa Bay area but now buys and sells from crabbers, crabs he mostly sells to Crabby Bill’s restaurants. Scientists don’t agree on what will happen after the storm. Some say it’s likely to break up the Red Tide. Others predict the hurricane will simply move it around. Sahr is counting on the former. “It’s a blessing in disguise,” he said. “We need the water cooling down and the shorter days — Red Tide feeds off warm water and sunlight.”
“City Works Eatery & Pour House coming to Disney Springs” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The City Works Eatery & Pour House will focus on “classic American food” along with three full-service bars, a 165-inch TV screen and a 1,767-square-foot patio space. “The Disney Springs space will offer 80 beers on tap including rare, limited supply, special tappings from local breweries and others from around the world,” Disney Springs marketing manager Darcy Clark wrote on the Disney Parks Blog. “If barley and hops aren’t for you, a curated selection of popular wines will be available as well, ready to pair with bar bites, shareables, burgers and more.” There are currently seven City Works restaurants around the country, including a Florida location in Doral. Chicago-based Bottleneck Management will run it. The new restaurant will be adjacent to the under-construction NBA Experience, which is taking over space once occupied by the demolished Disney Quest.
Happy birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan.
Last Call – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
While you were busy watching, waiting or preparing for a hurricane, the Seminole Tribe of Florida was laying plans for world domination.
Well, at least in terms of lodging, gaming and entertainment.
The Tribe, which owns the Hard Rock brand, on Wednesday said it was opening a Hard Rock hotel next year in Madrid, Spain.
“Working in collaboration with European real estate specialists ActivumSG Capital Management Ltd., Hard Rock will bring its signature vibe to this historic metropolitan city with the development of a new 159-room music-centric hotel,” a press release said.
It will be located opposite the historic Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in the Atocha district of the city, and “will boast a number of brand-signature Hard Rock amenities.”
They include “a Body Rock fitness center, the exclusive Rock Om in-room yoga program, The Sound of Your Stay music amenity program and the Rock Shop.”
The project, on the site of a former municipal office building, is projected to cost 25 million euros.
The tribe in late 2016 consolidated its control over the Hard Rock brand, buying out remaining rights from the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Since then, Hard Rock has been on a roll. It announced the addition of a 200-room Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. Hard Rock-themed properties are now in Tampa, Hollywood (both include casinos) and Orlando.
The company has bought and re-opened the former Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, and has a deal to open a Hard Rock Casino in Ottawa, Canada. The company also wants to build a $1 billion casino in northern New Jersey, just outside New York City.
And the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood this summer notched a milestone in its $1.5 billion expansion with a “topping out” of its 450-foot high guitar-shaped tower.
“I’m not going anywhere. I don’t run from nothing.” — Fyderrick Bush, a Bay County resident, quoted in the Panama City News Herald.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Because of the hurricane, check with organizers of events before you go to make sure they have not been canceled or postponed.
House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is sponsoring a hurricane relief supply drop-off at her local legislative office. That’s from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2221 N. Himes Ave., Suite B, Tampa.
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a workshop about the 2019-2020 federal transit grant application process. That’s at 10 a.m., FDOT Jacksonville Urban Training Center, 2198 Edison Ave., Jacksonville.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its first monthly forecast for Florida’s 2018-2019 citrus growing season at noon.
The Florida Department of Citrus Scientific Research Advisory Committee will discuss research plans for the current fiscal year. That’s at 2 p.m., Florida Department of Citrus, 605 East Main St., Bartow.
The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission will meet by phone to consider and select applicants for interviews to fill three positions upon the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince. That’s at 5:30 p.m. The call-in number is 866-388-7725, then use PIN 290730.
Former New Orleans Mayor MitchLandrieu will speak during a 40th-anniversary event of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 6 p.m., University of South Florida St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 200 Sixth Ave. South, St. Petersburg.
Republican U.S. Rep. VernBuchanan is slated to speak during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Sarasota County. That’s at 7 p.m., Carlisle Inn, 3727 Bahia Vista South, Sarasota.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Joe Henderson, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Politics seems so trivial in times like the Panhandle is about to experience with Hurricane Michael. Petty red and blue arguments are out of place when a storm like this threatens everything and everyone in its path.
If you’re a Democrat and intend to vote with vigor for Bill Nelson to the U.S. Senate, you still should be rooting for his election opponent, Republican Governor Rick Scott, to carefully and successfully manage this horrible situation in the days ahead.
Same goes for Republicans who support Ron DeSantis for Governor. I sure hope they’re wishing for his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, to be a steady and effective leader in this crisis. If it costs your man a few votes, at least you can be consoled by the fact it also might have saved some lives.
Only the most cynical and selfish person would think otherwise.
There is an appropriate time to question how leaders stepped up during a storm like this, but for the next few everyone just needs to be a Floridian. Think we’re up to it?
We hope we are.
But here is a reality: Hurricane Michael likely will cause catastrophic damage, and that can’t be fixed overnight. When Hurricane Irma blew through Tampa last year, some people went many days without power. There were flooded streets. Fallen trees and large limbs blocked some roads and it took a while to get them all clear.
Grocery stores had near-empty shelves for many days after the storm.
But as Floridians, we had each other and that’s how we got through it all — well, that, peanut butter, Chunky soup and the stockpile you safely stashed away from the local ABC store.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@realDonaldTrump: Hurricane on its way to the Florida Pan Handle with major elements arriving tomorrow. Could also hit, in later stage, parts of Georgia, and unfortunately North Carolina, and South Carolina, again … … Looks to be a Cat. 3 which is even more intense than Florence. Good news is, the folks in the Pan Handle can take care of anything. @fema and First Responders are ready — be prepared!
—@MarcoRubio: .@nikkihaley was a strong voice for the U.S. & for moral clarity at the U.N. America was blessed to have her representing us. We thank her & her family for their service to our country & the cause of freedom & #HumanRights.
—@Pcola_EddieT: hey @jack — thanks for the @twitter platform, can you do us all a favor? When an area is about to be impacted by a huge storm, can you disable the jumbled chronological tweet algorithm? Its frustrating seeing 18/22hr old tweets on #HuuricaneMichael coordinates
—@RT_Dailey: most everywhere I’ve been last 2 days, gas stations, stores, etc. — almost without fail hear people saying “stay safe,’ ‘take care of yourself’ etc. to total strangers. Tallahassee is awesome and we got this
—@JLG0103: First time leaving for a hurricane feels odd. Taking the kids and dog to Orlando for the rest of the week. Angela staying behind to work the EOC. Wishing everyone in #Tallahassee stays safe.
—@RadioRicko: The last time a hurricane hit Tallahassee one of my hives lost it’s top and the bees were soaked. Not this time. Give it your best shot, Michael.
—@PatriciaMazzei: TFW the luggage attendant does a double-take at your boarding pass and asks, “Wait — isn’t that where the hurricane is going?”
—@Doug_Hanks: So today, Miami-Dade’s @MDCElections mailed out its first big batch of mail-in ballots for Nov. About 309,000 of them. That’s about 20% higher than the 257,000 ballots mailed out 10/11 in the first big batch of 2016 during the PRESIDENTIAL election.
— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —
— DAYS UNTIL —
MLB World Series begins — 13; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 14; Early voting begins — 17; Halloween — 21; General Election Day — 27; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 38; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 41; Thanksgiving — 43; Black Friday — 44; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 48; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 62; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 125; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 146; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 149; 2020 General Election — 755.
— STORM NOTES —
“Rick Scott on Hurricane Michael: ‘Devastating storm … going to be historic’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Hurricane Michael is going to be “devastating” for north Florida, Gov. Scott said at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. “It’s going to be historic,” he said at an 8 a.m. press briefing, mentioning that the first effects will begin in about 12 hours. The “massive storm … could bring devastation” to the Florida Panhandle, with 110 mph winds expected in coastal communities, and 75 mph winds in Tallahassee. It’s on track to be the “most destructive storm” to rake the Panhandle and Big Bend region in years, he added.
“Tallahassee braces for strongest storm ‘since 1894’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Emergency officials in Leon County are predicting Hurricane Michael will be the “strongest” and “most extreme” storm in decades to hit Florida’s capital city. Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee, county Emergency Management Director KevinPeters said Hurricane Michael is nearly a Category 3 storm. He anticipates it will make landfall at that strength on Wednesday somewhere near Panama City. “Hurricane Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit our area of Florida since 1894,” said Peters.
“Utilities, state prepare for hurricane strike” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — As rains from the powerful storm started to reach the Panhandle, about 15,000 workers lined up by Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light and public utilities have been positioned to respond to anticipated widespread outages. The companies and the Florida Municipal Electric Association also reported having at least 2,000 more workers from companies throughout the South and as far away as Texas, Nebraska and Indiana. “We train year-round for these types of scenarios,” Gulf Power spokesman Gordon Paulus said in a statement. “That training and developing of skills has really paid off in helping us quickly and safely get our customers’ power back on.”
“Duke expects 100,000 to 200,000 customers to lose power” via the News Service of Florida — The utility said it based the estimate on a storm-modeling tool that takes into account factors such as wind speed and the magnitude of the storm. “Duke Energy anticipates significant, widespread power outages, particularly along the coastline of the company’s service area due to storm surge,” the company said in a news release. “Historical data and company experience indicate complete restoration from a storm of this magnitude could take multiple days to over a week — depending on the extent of actual damage, crews’ ability to access remote areas and islands, and conditions following the storm, such as flooding.”
“Power companies sending repair crews before Hurricane Michael hits Tallahassee” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than 1,000 utility workers from out of town and other states, as far away as Texas, are on tap to sweep into Tallahassee to help restore power after Hurricane Michael pushes through with possible 100 mph winds and heavy rains. What’s unusual is that 125 of them will be stationed before the hurricane hits within the cone of uncertainty, right here in Tallahassee. “We have mutual agreements that are also signed … with both private and public utilities,” Mayor Gillum said in a news briefing. He said the city received commitments from 13 mutual aid partners. “Mutual aid agreements are first and foremost the most critical.”
Food and ice will be available for storm victims via Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is assembling three chainsaw strike teams to begin debris cleanup following the Hurricane Michael. The department is also preparing a team to mobilize for urban search and rescue operations. In anticipation of widespread power outages, the department will have on hand 20-25 truckloads of ice and 500,000 meals for people in shelters. These preparations are in addition to already planned services like opening shelters and issuing evacuation orders.
“In email, Florida emergency management chief slams local storm prep” via Matt Dixon and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott’s emergency management chief sent a blistering email late Monday night about the pace at which local Panhandle officials have been preparing for Hurricane Michael, a storm expected to bring punishing conditions to the region. “We have known for days that, regardless of size, we would see a significant storm impact in the Florida Panhandle and big ben,” Department of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul wrote in an email to local and emergency management officials. “Yet, here we sit at 10 p.m., less than 24 hours from storm force winds in advance of a major hurricane and with little to no sheltering and evacuation operations yet to begun.” Maul was also critical of local officials not beginning “life safety operations” until Tuesday afternoon.
“Airbnb activates ‘open homes’ program to assist hurricane evacuees” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Airbnb is opening its ‘Open Homes’ program Tuesday, encouraging its property hosts in Jacksonville, Gainesville, and Central Florida to take in Panhandle evacuees from Hurricane Michael at no charge. The program, which Airbnb has run in past hurricanes including Harvey, Irma, and Maria last year, provides the vacation rental homes as temporary accommodations free of charge to both evacuees and emergency workers responding for recovery efforts. The participating vacation rental-home owners, the hosts, join the effort voluntarily, at the company’s encouragement, and the marketing company lists them as Open Homes evacuation sites.
“Hurricane Michael brings fight over voter registration deadline extension” via Ana Ceballos of USA TODAY — Gov. Scott‘s administration authorized extending Tuesday’s voter registration deadline in counties that closed election offices because of the storm to one day after offices are able to reopen. But hours later, Florida Democrats filed an emergency injunction asking a judge to extend the deadline by at least one week. Democrats want the state to extend the deadline to Oct. 16. “The Florida Department of State is committed to ensuring that all eligible Floridians are able to register to vote, including those Floridians who may be impacted by Hurricane Michael,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote in a memorandum distributed late Monday night.
“Warning: Hurricane Michael may bring AOB scammers in its wake” via Florida Politics — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis activated his Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team to “get ahead of” and post-storm fraud. He also activated seven out of eight of the state’s firefighting and search and rescue teams as Michael approached landfall. The Consumer Protection Coalition, comprising insurers and other business interests organized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, directed home and auto policyholders to its website to view ads warning against AOB agreements. These are contracts whereby a policyholder assigns the right to enforce a policy to a contractor before beginning repairs. Critics, including the coalition, argue that unscrupulous contractors can inflate restoration costs, forcing litigation with insurance companies that drive up insurance premiums.
“Florida county jokingly ‘warns’ forecaster to stay away” via The Associated Press — The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office posted a tongue-in-cheek trespass warning on Facebook for The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore. Cantore is usually on the scene of major storms. The office wrote: “Everyone knows what’s in store when Jim Cantore shows up. So, we issued a little notice. lol.” The “warning” provides special conditions for “non-business-related visits only,” preferably during the winter.
— THE LATEST —
Hurricane Michael is an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and still growing stronger as it closes in on the northwest Florida coast.
Reports from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 140 mph (220 kph) with higher gusts.
At 5 a.m., the center of the hurricane was bearing down on a stretch of the Florida Panhandle, still about 140 miles (225 kilometers) from Panama City and 130 miles (209 kilometers) from Apalachicola, but moving relatively fast at 13 mph (21 kph). Tropical-storm force winds extending 185 miles (295 kilometers) from the center were already lashing the coast.
Forecasters are warning of life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic wind damage and heavy rainfall as the hurricane moves onshore.
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“As Hurricane Michael bears down on Tallahassee, eyes are on Andrew Gillum” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The storm is a reminder that the city’s mayor is mostly a figurehead, with no real management powers, like his colleagues on the city council. When asked what his responsibilities were this week, he said he’s been giving updates to Gov. Scott and meeting regularly with the city manager and giving advice. “He and I are hand-in-glove in this, as we have been in previous storms,” Gillum said of his relationship with the city manager. But he’s also “being the best messenger that we can, as an elected official that has the trust of people in our community to communicate directly to citizens what we need them to do,” Gillum said.
“’Don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city’: Gillum pushes back against Donald Trump” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gillum took to Twitter to respond to vague criticisms offered by Trump earlier in the day at a stop in Orlando. “Don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city while we are preparing for a Category 3 hurricane,” Gillum wrote in a tweet addressed to Trump. “We need a partner right now, not a partisan.” Gillum was referencing comments made by Trump during an exclusive interview with WFTV’s Christopher Heath following the president’s remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention. “[DeSantis’] opponent runs a place that has a lot of problems and I know it very well, but it’s got a lot of problems, tremendous corruption, tremendous crime,” Trump told Heath.
“Michael Bloomberg, DGA boost Gillum’s fundraising” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gillum raised more than $3.3 million through his political committee last week, receiving hefty support from former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, the Democratic Governors Association and wealthy Democratic donors. Bloomberg, who visited the Sunshine State over the weekend while reportedly exploring a 2020 presidential bid, cut a $250,000 check for Gillum’s committee, Forward Florida.Other big-ticket donations came from Democratic donor MarshaLaufer, of Manalapan, who chipped in $500,000, and the BarbaraStiefel Trust, which wrote a $100,000 check for the Tallahassee Mayor’s gubernatorial bid. The Democratic Governors Association chipped in $1 million, bringing its total investment in Gillum so far to $4 million.
“DeSantis continues campaign for governor as Hurricane Michael looms” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis told about four dozen supporters standing in the steamy parking lot of the hotel next door to the University of South Florida that holding a rally would not be “as appropriate.” But that doesn’t mean he put politics on hold: DeSantis added that sentiment at the end of a stump speech that included some not-so-veiled shots at Gillum. The events reflected a storm-related reality for DeSantis: While Gillum preps for a hurricane expected to wallop Tallahassee — and getting plenty of media coverage in the process — DeSantis has no official duties. He resigned from his northeast Florida Congressional seat last month to focus on the campaign. Tuesday’s Tampa event, and two more like them scheduled for tomorrow in Orlando and Jacksonville, were a way to try keep the momentum going. They’re being billed as “Emergency Supply Drop Off at Ron DeSantis Regional Events.”
“Tim Baker joins DeSantis campaign” via Florida Politics — With four weeks before the primary, Republican Gubernatorial nominee DeSantis brought on yet another seasoned hand for his campaign’s stretch run. Tim Baker joined the campaign in a senior leadership role, offering strategic and political guidance. Baker, one of a series of staff moves in DeSantis World that included bringing on another op with a Jacksonville portfolio in campaign manager Susie Wiles, asserted that the campaign is “starting to hit stride” and “we are all working like crazy.” This is a full-circle move for Baker, who worked on DeSantis’ first campaign for Congress in 2012.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“New Democratic ad hits Scott on education cuts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new television commercial by the Democrats’ Senate Majority Political Action Committee, “Cuts,” focuses on the $1.3 billion that Florida cut from the state’s education budget during the first two years of Scott’s administration, as he and the Florida Legislature focused on budget and tax cuts as their strategy to address the Great Recession still miring Florida in 2011-’12. “He promised us …” a narrator begins. It then quotes an Scott declaring, “Zero cuts out of state general revenue for education … But it wasn’t true.” The commercial then goes to clips of students, schools and teachers as the narrator reminds viewers of the $1.3 billion in education cuts and the tax cuts “to corporations,” and then goes into detail: “Scott cut $20 million from pre-K. Slashed Bright Futures scholarships. And over a thousand teaching jobs … gone. Today Florida’s schools have fallen to 40th in the nation.”
“Donald Trump praises Scott, bashes Bill Nelson over EAA reservoir” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — In a tweet, Trump said he supported a plan to design and construct a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that aims to reduce algae blooms in coastal Florida communities, also taking an opportunity to praise Scott for the project. The Senate is scheduled to make a final vote on the Water Resources Development Act, a major water infrastructure package, no later than Thursday. The president also took an opportunity to bash Florida’s Democratic Sen. Nelson, saying he’s been “no help” on the project. “The president should know better than to play politics in the senate race on behalf of Rick Scott when there’s a dangerous storm taking aim at Florida’s Panhandle,” said Dan McLaughlin, Nelson’s campaign spokesman, referring to the category 3 Hurricane Michael expected to make landfall in Florida.
“FiveThirtyEight says Nelson’s re-election odds on the upswing” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A month after claiming Nelson was the most vulnerable incumbent nationwide, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight says his odds of defeating Gov. Scott are improving. Based on polls alone, the political forecasting website currently lists the third-term Democrat with a 57 percent chance of earning another six years in Washington. He fares a little better in the site’s “Classic” model, which accounts for x factors such as incumbency, fundraising and historical trends. Despite the improved odds, the vote tally is expected to be as close as ever: FiveThirtyEight currently predicts Nelson will take 50.5 percent of the vote on Election Day while Scott, a Republican, will get a 49.5 percent share. … When it comes to national Democrats’ chances of flipping the Senate, however, FiveThirtyEight says that possibility is rapidly waning.
— VOTE NOTES —
“Progressive group says it signed up 50,000 new young voters in Florida” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — NextGen America, founded by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, invested $3.5 million in the state to register thousands of young people in time for the November election. The group had spent more than $32 million nationwide, including 10 other states such as Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and Iowa, and said it registered more than 236,000 voters across the country. “We are tremendously proud of the fact that we’ve registered over 50,000 voters this election cycle,” NextGen Florida Youth Director Carly Cass said in a statement. “But our work isn’t done yet. From now until November 6, we’re going to remind voters that they have the power to move the needle on issues like affordable health care, racial justice and climate change.”
“In the eye of another storm — this one over voting in Florida” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Two controversies erupted at once Tuesday, one over a state online voter registration system and the other involving the storm’s disruption of the last day that Florida residents could become eligible voters in 2018. Complaints multiplied from people who say the state’s online registration portal was not working. The portal, which was a year old on Oct. 1, has had glitches before, but never this close to a voter registration deadline, and it prompted threats of legal action. “It’s extremely troubling. This is one moment where the states’ online systems need to operate,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“Dems sue to extend voter registration” via Florida Politics — The Florida Democratic Partyfiled a federal lawsuit Tuesday to extend the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline by one week in areas to be affected by Hurricane Michael. While Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already extended the deadline by a day via Directive 2018-03, that’s not enough for the FDP, which says this “’solution’ is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote by the October 9 registration deadline. Voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Michael. Voters attempting to register online may face internet outages due to the storm.”
“’A mess’: Florida’s online voter-registration system panned” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — As a hurricane threatened Florida, Gov. Scott balked at extending Tuesday’s voter registration deadline for a week as Democrats want, in part because the state has an online system to sign up new voters. But thousands of Floridians have told some elections supervisors in recent days that the system isn’t working — despite claims from the state that the problems had been fixed and that the effort has been “immensely successful.” “A mess!” Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher told POLITICO by email. Florida Democrats are suing Scott’s secretary of state, Detzner, in federal court to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline for at least a week due to the approach of Hurricane Michael. “We have had hundreds of complaints about the system being down or intermittent all weekend. On 10/6/18 we only received 1 online voter registration, which is highly unusual as we usually get hundreds,” Bucher said. “We have lines in our office and have fielded more than 1,500 calls this morning which is an unusually high volume.”
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Nancy Soderberg, Michael Waltz statistically tied in CD 6” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Democrat Soderberg and Republican Waltz are tied in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District according to a new poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The poll, conducted Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, found both candidates pulling 45 percent among voters in CD 6 … GQR’s prior measure of the race found Waltz had a 2-point lead with only 7 percent of voters undecided. … “Waltz is failing to motivate his own base, earning just 75 percent of the vote among registered Republicans. Soderberg receives 82 percent of the vote among registered Democrats,” the polling memo says. … CD 6 covers parts of St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Trump won CD 6 by 17 points two years ago.
“Club for Growth poll puts Ross Spano way out front in Kristen Carlson matchup” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A new poll by WPA Intelligence, a Republican polling company, puts Spano 7 points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Carlson, in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Anti-big government group Club for Growth Action commissioned the poll for the district that covers parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties. Spano scored a 56 percent name ID from survey respondents and among those who offered their opinion on the Dover state Representative, he scored a plus-14 in favorability. Carlson scored 25 percent in the name ID portion of the survey and had a plus-6 favorability rating among the 16 percent of voters who shared their opinion. The poll also asked respondents how they would vote in a generic election between a Republican and a Democrat and the GOP came out on top by 4 points, 48-44 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
“New David Shapiro ad goes after Vern Buchanan — and Nancy Pelosi; Republicans scoff” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The advertisement, titled “Build,” features Shapiro inspecting the rotting foundation of an old, dilapidated home, then compares the weak structure to leadership failures in Congress. “My father built houses. He’d tell me, if the foundation is weak, you have to tear the whole thing down,” Shapiro says in the ad. “And now, gridlock and partisanship are making Washington weak. We need change. Politicians like Vern Buchanan and Nancy Pelosi have to go.”
“Personnel note: Allen Ellison announces campaign team” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ellison, the replacement Democratic nominee in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, announced a campaign team led by campaign manager Daniel Sohn, Haverhill Town Councilman. Ellison said the team boasts experience working on campaign teams for presidential candidates Barack Obama, John Kerry and Martin O’Malley.Aisha Alayande, executive director of Drug-Free Highlands, will serve as scheduling director. Anthony Dowling, an Indiantown Village Councilman, serves as deputy political director and communications director. Samantha Gholar, a former journalist and founder of Emerge Sarasota, will be deputy communications director under Dowling. Kelvin Lindsey, a Bowling Green agent for FEMA and Bobby Norfleet Racing, will be campaign strategist.
“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell nabs $1.6M in latest fundraising period” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Mucarsel-Powell campaign says the third quarter has been kind to the candidate, with $1.6 million in new donations pouring into the Democrat’s coffers. Mucarsel-Powell is attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The campaign says it received contributions from more than 70,000 unique donors. Numbers from the Curbelo campaign were not yet available on the Federal Election Commission‘s website. Mucarsel-Powell came out ahead of Curbelo in the previous fundraising period, topping his numbers by more than $60,000.
“Donna Shalala ad hits opponent over previous Trump praise” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new Spanish language ad from Shalala is going after her opponent in Florida’s 27th Congressional District over previous tweets praising President Trump. Former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar earned the Republican nomination in the heavily Hispanic district back in August. Now, Shalala is attempting to tie her to the President in a new ad titled, “The Trump Cheerleader.” “Maria Elvira Salazar: Trump’s greatest cheerleader,” the ad’s narrator begins. “Praising him …” That’s when a woman’s voice, imagined to be that of Salazar, pops in reading out her tweet to Trump. “Bravo, Trump!”
“Florida Republicans begin replacement process for Dorothy Hukill” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday informed the Florida Department of State that it was beginning the process of selecting Hukill’s replacement ahead of the November election for Senate District 14. … “It is with great sadness I inform you that due to the passing of Senator Dorothy Hukill, there now exists a vacancy in the nomination for the Republican Party in the 2018 General Election for the Florida Senate District 14 race,” RPOF Chair Blaise Ingoglia wrote. “ … The Republican Party of Florida will begin the process of designating a nominee for the District 14 race as outlined in section 100.111, Florida Statutes, and our internal party rules.” … Under state law, candidate vacancies after the primary elections have taken place “are required to be filled by committee nominations.” The law also states that ballots shall not be changed, with any vote for the prior nominee counting for the replacement.
“Legislative Black Caucus clarifies it has not endorsed Shawn Harrison” via Florida Politics — Harrison’s re-election campaign has been sending out a direct mail piece showing him alongside members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, and the group said it wants to make it clear that it has not endorsed the Tampa Republican. Topping the bullet points on the mailer is that the HD 63 Republican “stood with the Black Caucus to take out the Marshall Program from the School Safety Bill.” Despite aligning with caucus members on some issues, FLBC Chairman and state Rep. Bruce Antone, an Orlando Democrat, said the mailer could give recipients the wrong impression. “The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is a nonpartisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office. Representative Harrison’s campaign mailer, which used a photo of members of the Black Caucus standing behind him as he presented a bill, is misleading and implies he has been endorsed by the Black Caucus,” Antone said.
— STATEWIDE —
“Panel to consider Florida Supreme Court hopefuls” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission received the applications for seats that will be vacated when justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince step down in January because of a mandatory retirement age. The commission will use the Thursday conference call to decide which applicants will be interviewed. The commission next month will submit names of potential justices to the governor. Lawyers applying for the seats include numerous appellate and circuit judges from across the state.
“Justices reject putting cross case on fast track” via the News Service of Florida — The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from the city of Pensacola to speed up consideration of a case about the removal of a decades-old cross from a city park. The city appealed to the Supreme Court last month after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the cross in Bayview Park should be removed because it violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the cross, saying its presence on public property was unconstitutional. In addition to appealing last month to the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for the city also requested that justices “expedite” consideration of whether to hear the case.
“Seminole County approves deal with Airbnb to collect bed tax” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — The 5-percent tax has long been added to the bill of guests staying at Seminole hotels and resorts. However, county officials said they were concerned about the loss of tax revenue when visitors use home-sharing sites, such as Airbnb, rather than hotels, thereby skirting the tax. “Everyone is doing that inadvertently,” Commissioner Bob Dallari said. “People don’t know that” they’re not paying the tax.” He added that Airbnb should have the same standards as other types of lodging.
“Martin County nixes fertilizer ban extension” via Lisa Broadt of TCPalm — County commissioners rejected an extension of the summer fertilizer ban. Following staff recommendations, they instead unanimously approved an increased education campaign about the environmental risks of nitrogen-based fertilizer. Commissioners made their decision after about an hour of discussion and a presentation during which county staff members said increasing the ban from four months to six months — as other Martin County municipalities have done — actually could be harmful to the environment.
“Florida gas prices are nearly 30 cents higher than this time last year” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Gas in Florida averaged $2.82 per gallon Monday, holding steady from last week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay prices were $2.77 per gallon Monday, down three cents over the week. Nationally, gas stood at $2.91 per gallon. The spike comes courtesy of the highest crude oil prices since 2014. Barrels of crude oil were $76.41 each as of Oct. 3, the highest since November, AAA said. Hurricane Michael is not expected to impact gas prices where supply is concerned, as the storm’s path did not directly threaten any Gulf Coast refineries and oil drilling rigs, AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said.
“Gainesville city commissioners offer tentative support of half-cent schools tax referendum” via Madison Spector of WUFT — The half-cent sales tax will be a referendum on the ballot this upcoming November. The focus of the tax is to modernize and revitalize public schools around Alachua County. If it passes, it will produce about $22 million over the next 12 years starting in January. Six of the seven commissioners were present for the meeting, and all gave their support for the proposal. Mayor Lauren Poe has previously stated his support for it but was absent from the meeting. Commissioner Gail Johnson was concerned about the makeup of a committee overseeing how the $22 million would be spent. “The piece of this that concerns me is that we have not talked about what that oversight committee … who’s on that, who’s choosing the people that are on that,” she said. “That’s a big question mark and ‘what if’ for me that sometimes can be a red flag when deciding how large pots of money are going to be spent.”
“Jury awards $25M to parents of woman killed by garbage truck” via Daniel Smithson of the Gainesville Sun — An Alachua County jury awarded the parents of Abigail Dougherty, the 20-year-old University of Florida student who was run over and killed by a Waste Corporation of America garbage truck nearly two years ago, $25 million in damages. The 20-year-old’s father, Pat Dougherty, and mother, Anita Forester, were awarded $12.5 million each in damages for mental pain and suffering. In October 2016, Dougherty, who was heavily involved in community service, was riding a bike south on Northwest 17th Street, attempting to cross West University Avenue when the garbage truck ran over her while attempting to turn right onto University Avenue, police said. The complaint said the truck’s driver, Charles Danzy, was negligent in not yielding the right of way to Dougherty before making his turn, by not using his turn signal, and failing to check for traffic, among other claims.
“UCF student reluctantly becomes #HimToo sensation” via David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel — What does Pieter Hanson have in common with Donald Trump Jr., Jesus Christ, the Bubble Boy and a heavily-armed goat? Nothing! That’s what the UCF student wants the world to know after he was inadvertently sucked into the Brett Kavanaugh War. It all revolves the Twitter hashtag #HimToo, which sprouted as a response to #IBelieveDrFord. Its goal is to publicize that men are sometimes falsely accused of sexual assault and accusers can be lying. That apparently was the point Hanson’s mother was trying to make when she posted a photo of him in his old Navy uniform and wrote: “This is MY son. He graduated #1 in boot camp. He was awarded the USO award. He was #1 in A school. He is a gentleman who respects women. He won’t go on solo dates due to the current climate of false sexual accusations by radical feminists with an ax to grind. I VOTE. #HimToo.” It took Twitter about five seconds to pounce. Hundreds of memes soon appeared with mocking variations of the message featuring movie characters, politicians, animals and SpongeBob SquarePants.
— OPINIONS —
“Rabbis Steven Engel, Jack Romberg: take anti-Semitism out of Florida politics” via Florida Politics — Are politics in Florida truly descending to the lowest level? We ask that because of articles appearing around Florida in which the DeSantis campaign accuses Mayor Gillum of being anti-Israel, and Chris King along with Gillum of being anti-Semitic. As rabbis of two major Jewish communities in Florida, we object to any campaign using the politics of fear to influence our people. Just as important as supporting policies regarding Israel, Gillum’s has shown strong support for Tallahassee’s Jewish community. Here is one example — Temple Israel’s largest fundraising event is our annual Jewish Food and Cultural Festival. As both a Commissioner and Mayor, Gillum has volunteered numerous times to work at the festival. He never wanted to be the center of publicity or attention, but simply worked alongside a group of our congregants, making and serving sandwiches. I, Rabbi Engel, through my interfaith work, and on a personal level, I know Chris King. He and I also have many mutual friends who we are both very close to. It is antithetical to everything I have heard Chris say and do, in public and private, to think that he is anti-Semitic.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Rhea Law to step down as chair of Buchanan’s Florida offices” via Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Law, shareholder and chair of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Florida offices, will leave her position at the end of 2018, but will remain with the firm in an “of counsel” role. Carl Joseph Coleman will take over as chair of the Florida offices. He has been the head of Buchanan’s Fort Myers office and will relocate. He has chaired the firm’s Florida litigation practice and has been practicing law for nearly 32 years. Law is a prominent and respected business leader in the Tampa Bay area. “This is all self-motivated,” she told the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “I never really intended to practice law my entire life.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Gregory Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: SR II
Chris Spencer, GrayRobinson: Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists
— ALOE —
“What Universal has in store for New Year’s Eve” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Universal will be bringing back its adults-only EVE at Universal CityWalk celebration beginning at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31. Standard tickets start at $110 per person and include “an unlimited selection of gourmet dishes,” access to six CityWalk clubs with live bands and DJs and a complimentary champagne toast. VIP tickets with extra perks like private bars and balcony access start at $195 per person. The party will feature Orlando’s own DJ M-Squared, who performs every Saturday at The Groove at CityWalk. For those below the age of 21 holding a Universal park ticket or annual pass, the resort is offering another New Year’s Eve celebration inside Universal Studios Florida. The areas around the park’s Music Plaza Stage and Central Park will become “party zones” with live music and appearances by Universal Orlando characters.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
They say politics and hurricanes don’t mix, but hey, this is Tallahassee, less than a month from Election Day.
Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate AndrewGillum, who gave a storm preparation briefing Tuesday, was asked by a reporter whether guiding the city through a natural disaster was “a test of (his) leadership.”
“First, I think the criticism out there is unwarranted,” he said, referring to attack ads from Republican candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis is pushing a narrative that Gillum turned down outside offers of help from other utilities after Hurricane Hermine two years ago.
City utilities officials have said they declined assistance at first because of coordination and safety concerns.
“We want to reduce the level of politics,” Gillum said Tuesday. “I have provided updates to the governor (RickScott). I will call him again this afternoon to provide an update.
“ … I know we got our own things going on right now, but the truth is our only responsibility and obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the people under our jurisdiction.”
(That said, we note that Gillum tweeted this the day before: “Hey @realDonaldTrump — don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city while we are preparing for a Category 3 hurricane. We need a partner right now, not a partisan.”)
“Floridians take care of each other … there are so many people ready to help you.” — Gov. Rick Scott, at a Hurricane Michael briefing Tuesday morning.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
These were among events not yet noticed for cancellation or postponement, but check with organizers before you go:
The Florida Department of Children and Families will hold a meeting to discuss the delivery of refugee services in Orange County. That’s at 10 a.m., Goodwill Industries, 3911 East Colonial Dr., Orlando.
The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a meeting on several projects within the Golden Glades Interchange in Miami-Dade County. That’s at 6 p.m., North Miami Beach City Hall, Marjorie & William McDonald Center, 17051 N.E. 19th Ave., North Miami Beach.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Joe Henderson, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
The latest on Hurricane Michael as of 5 a.m. Tuesday – Michael gained new strength over warm tropical waters amid fears it would swiftly intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida’s northeast Gulf Coast, where frantic coastal dwellers are boarding up homes and seeking evacuation routes away from the dangerous storm heading their way, reports the Associated Press.
A hurricane hunter plane that bounced into the swirling eye of Michael off the west tip of Cuba late Monday found wind speeds were rising even as forecasters warned the storm could reach major hurricane status with winds topping 111 mph (179 kph) by Tuesday night. Anticipated landfall is expected Wednesday on the northeast Gulf Coast, where authorities warned of a potentially devastating strike.
By early Tuesday, Michael’s top sustained winds had risen some to 90 mph (144 kph) as it headed north at 12 mph (19 kph). The storm was centered about 390 miles (627 kilometers) south of Apalachicola and 420 miles (675 kilometers) south of Panama City, Florida. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 175 miles (280 kilometers). Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the core and tropical-storm-force winds out 195 miles (313.81 kilometers). Michael was lashing western Cuba on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.
When you see Governor Rick Scott put on the Navy ball cap, stuff’s about to get real. It has become his trademark look when taking the lead role as warner-in-chief during past Florida hurricanes, and we can expect more of the same in the coming days as Hurricane Michael takes aim on the Panhandle.
With this potential Category 3 monster approaching, Scott already sounds the familiar warnings of the impending emergency and for residents to find safe shelter or get out of Dodge before it’s too late.
Well, that’s what he should do — and most people believe some of Scott’s best moments have come during these tense situations with the potential for disaster. The stakes are even higher now, both for Scott and Democrat and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
This time, the October surprise came from the National Hurricane Center. What’s about to happen here should be about people and saving lives, but there is no escape from the fact it also comes with significant political implications.
How the Governor and the Mayor perform in the days leading up to the storm and its aftermath could tilt close elections in their favor — Scott, for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Bill Nelson, and Gillum in what has become an increasingly snippy race for Governor against Republican Ron DeSantis.
There really isn’t much Nelson or DeSantis can do to keep the spotlight off their opponents, either — although Nelson, to be fair, was visible along with Republican senatorial counterpart Marco Rubio during last year’s bouts with Mother Nature.
But as the storm gets closer, all the cameras will be focused on Scott for updates. And with Florida’s strategic importance in the national political picture, he won’t have any trouble getting whatever aid people need to be delivered from FEMA in a timely matter when the storm is gone — probably with lots of free media coverage on TV, too.
Republicans, meanwhile, had already opened attacks against Gillum for his performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine in 2016, when much of Tallahassee’s power infrastructure was damaged.
In an ad that has been appearing around the state in recent days, Republicans claim Gillum refused help from outside workers waiting to help restore power to the city. DeSantis said Gillum was waiting for unionized workers to arrive on the scene, a claim vigorously disputed by Barry Moline, the former head of the Florida Municipal Electric Association.
In the Sun-Sentinel, Moline said the decision about accepting extra was made by him and Tallahassee’s general manager of electric utilities. Under Tallahassee’s form of government, Gillum was not empowered to make that call.
“Any claim that suggests the mayor had anything to do with rejecting crews is a flat-out lie,” Moline said. “It’s wrong. It’s false. It didn’t happen. The mayor wasn’t involved with selecting or choosing crews to bring into Tallahassee.”
But, the ads keep airing and the image DeSantis is painting of Gillum might stick with enough voters to turn a close election.
The image of Gillum, shovel in hand to help fill emergency sandbags, that was being circulated Monday afternoon on Twitter may help to blunt some of that.
Performing exceptionally in the coming days would blunt all of it though.
Hurricane Michael a real-life situation far too familiar to this state, and how the men who want to lead it to show what they can do under real pressure will go a long way toward determining if Floridians believe they’re up to the job.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Fineout: So with Hurricane Michael expected to be a Category 3 when it slams into the Panhandle — it will be the first major hurricane in 58 years to strike the state during the same year as a gubernatorial election
—@AndrewGillum: Hey @realDonaldTrump — don’t come to my state and talk trash about my city while we are preparing for a Category 3 hurricane. We need a partner right now, not a partisan.
—@DarcyRichardson: Hey @AndrewGillum — will you again refuse help from utility companies that happen to be nonunion like you did during Hurricane Hermine, leaving city residents without power longer than necessary? Just curious.
—@KevinCate: While Mayor @AndrewGillum is at the emergency operation center preparing Tallahassee for a Cat 3 hurricane, @RonDeSantisFL is running hurricane misinformation on TV in the cone of the hurricane. This isn’t just bad politics; it’s egregious and dangerous to public safety.
—@ArekSarkissian: Woah. I’ve never seen @SenBillNelson at the EOC in six years. Also never got the memo that he’d be paying a visit.
—@AnthonyPedicini: Amazing to think with razor-thin margins in FL statewide elections an October hurricane could swing it all …
—@MahoneysTheName: It’s incredible how the impending storm has stopped political time. No barrage of news releases this morning. I’m leaving mid-workday to buy canned food.
—@AnaCeballos_: Surreal to hear hurricane conditions on my local radio weather forecast on my way to gas station, where there is no more gas.
—@Ders850: I got three handles of bourbon, a carton of smokes, eight gallons of water, & enough beef jerky to traverse the Oregon Trail. Let’s do this thing.
—@SaraSClements: Reminder to all in the path of #HurricaneMichael: If you have pets, you are responsible for the safety of YOUR PETS. Make sure they have adequate food/water/meds & bring them with you if you evacuate. Most importantly, DO NOT leave them trapped & unable to fend for themselves.
—@Ryban1001: I’ve lived in Tallahassee for 30 years. One crime is too many, but in spite of what some want you to believe, our community is not Tallaganistan.
— DAYS UNTIL —
MLB World Series begins — 14; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 15; Early voting begins — 18; Halloween — 22; General Election Day — 28; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 39; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 42; Thanksgiving — 44; Black Friday — 45; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 49; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 63; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 126; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 147; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 150; 2020 General Election — 756.— STORM NOTES —
Rick Scott expands emergency declaration, asks for federal aid — Gov. Scott expanded a state of emergency to include 35 counties and asked President Trump for a declaration that would help provide federal assistance. Scott already issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency in 26 counties in Northwest Florida, the Big Bend region and North Central Florida. That declaration stretched from Escambia County in the western end of the Panhandle to Columbia County in North Central Florida and Levy County along the Gulf Coast. The expansion Monday added Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union and Baker counties. Also, Scott asked Trump to declare what is known as a “pre-landfall emergency” for the state.
Ahead of Michael, Jimmy Patronis activates state search and rescue teams — Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Patronis is activating seven out of eight Emergency Support Functions 4 & 9 (ESF 4&9) State of Florida, Search and Rescue task forces in preparation for Hurricane Michael’s landfall. Patronis’ Division of State Fire Marshal is the lead agency for this activation. “These teams are highly trained to assist Floridians in the aftermath of a storm, but it’s critical that we prepare now since there is no time to waste,” Patronis said. These teams are the primary response units that are immediately deployed to aid communities impacted by a natural or man-made disaster. The teams are comprised of Florida firefighters and first responders. Collectively, these task forces can provide resources such as swift water rescue, search and rescue, HAZMAT support, medical support, and satellite communications capabilities.
AAA: Hurricane should not cause gas price spike — AAA doesn’t expect Hurricane Michael to have a direct impact on gasoline supplies or prices at the pump in Florida. The hurricane’s projected path (as of Monday afternoon) directs the storm east of most oil drilling rigs and refineries along the Gulf Coast. This eases concerns of significant refinery and rig shutdowns, which would otherwise cause prices to rise.
“Most nursing homes still don’t have backup power, even though it is now required by law.” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Those generator rules — which were conceived in the wake of the Hollywood nursing home disaster last year that killed a dozen people — are still not done being implemented by many facilities across the state, particularly hundreds in the region where Michael’s impact is likely to be felt hardest. A review of data maintained by the Agency for Health Care Administration shows that, in 33 counties encompassing the western half of the state south to Hernando County and east to Putnam County, more than half of the 412 assisted-living facilities and nursing homes have yet to implement their emergency power plans. Nearly all of those facilities have been granted extensions, many through the end of the year, citing regulatory delays and equipment and contractor shortages.
Emergency means early prescription refills — Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier reminded insurance companies and HMOs of the policy following Gov. Scott’s declaration of a state of emergency. The mandate covers the 26 counties affected until the emergency lifts, and ensures that patients will have at least a 30-day supply of meds if their doctors have authorized refills. State law authorized the Office of Insurance Regulation to extend the mandate in increments of 15 or 30 days.
State offices closed through Thursday — Gov. Scott announced on Twitter late Monday that state offices will be closed Tuesday through Thursday in the 35 counties where a state of emergency has been declared.
At my direction, state offices will be closed tomorrow, October 9th- Thursday, October 11th in the 35 affected counties where I have declared a State of Emergency.
FSU shutting down— The university said Monday it is closing its Tallahassee and Panama City campuses Tuesday through Friday. “On-campus housing and dining service operations will continue throughout the closure,” the school said. “Students who choose to stay will be advised to follow a ‘shelter in place’ protocol … Meals will be delivered to the residence halls during the storm.” Visit alerts.fsu.edu for further updates.
What Kathy Mears is reading — “No, this isn’t a photo of Jim Cantore at the Tallahassee airport” via the Tallahassee Democrat — A photo of the Weather Channel’s Cantore has been making the rounds on social media, as the Tallahassee area waits nervously for Hurricane Michael. “Yikes!” said several Facebook users. “Jim Cantore just landed in Tallahassee … Yep we’re screwed,” said another. We can’t comment on the emotional reactions, but we can say definitively that this isn’t a photo of Cantore in Tallahassee. It was a photo of him at Logan Airport in Boston in January 2015.
Leon County public schools closing — Superintendent RockyHanna decided to close all county schools Tuesday through Friday. “This includes all after-school activities starting (Tuesday) and lasting until further notice,” its Facebook account said. “Many of our schools will transition into shelters … and will need to be closed.”
Leon County services canceled in advance of Hurricane Michael — Leon County offices, libraries and parks will be closed starting at noon Tuesday and will remain closed through Thursday. Also, this Tuesday’s Leon County Board of County Commissioners Meeting has been canceled. All items will be moved to the agenda for the Oct. 23 meeting. Solid waste collection in the County will be suspended on Wednesday. Residents are urged to secure their collection bins during the storm. Further details on waste collection service will be announced later this week.
Hurricane-related court closures begin — Court closures in North Florida now are being announced on a county-by-county basis due to Hurricane Michael’s approach. You can find a list of confirmed court closures and other emergency information on the Florida Supreme Court website here. Due to the potential for extended power outages in the state capital, the Florida Supreme Court and its offices also will use Facebook and Twitter to release updated emergency information about the state courts. You can follow those accounts here and here.
“Hurricane causes Public Service Commission to delay FPL purchase hearing” via TCPalm — Hurricane Michael has caused the Public Service Commission to delay this week’s hearing regarding the Florida Power & Light Co. purchase of the Vero Beach city electric system. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Tallahassee and continue Wednesday if needed. Now it’s rescheduled to Oct. 18-19.
Florida Municipal Electric Association gearing up — Executive Director AmyZubaly said her group “was in contact with public power communities across Florida and the Southeast lining up mutual aid crews prepared to assist affected areas of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend … We are bringing hundreds of mutual aid personnel into the City of Tallahassee.”
Gulf Power economic symposium postponed— The 22nd Gulf Power Economic Symposium, focusing on Northwest Florida’s growth, had been set for later this week in Miramar Beach. “This is a major safety concern for our attendees since many would be traveling to the event” in the wake of the hurricane, a notice said. “Please click here for more details about hotel and conference registration refunds.”
Public safety panel meeting canceled — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission meeting, scheduled for this Tuesday through Thursday in South Florida, was canceled on Monday because of Hurricane Michael. “We will advise when the meeting is rescheduled,” the FDLE said in a news release.
Hurricane puts wealthy Panhandle beach towns on notice” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News-Journal — “It’s kind of got us all on edge right now,” said Rachel Burke, general manager of Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar on Panama City Beach. Burke, whose business is part of a large beachfront mall, said the mall owners had emailed instructions to businesses on boarding up their storefronts. “Traffic is really heavy out here right now. People are filling up their gas tanks, getting water and doing those sorts of things,” she said. Michael caught many in the Panhandle by surprise as it grew from a tropical storm to a hurricane on Monday. It was forecast to become a major hurricane, Category 3 or higher, with winds of 110 miles per hour or more, by the time it was expected to make landfall Wednesday. Wherever Michael hits, it would likely cause problems for Destin’s charter fishing industry, said Mary Anne Windes, managing partner of the Destin Fishing Fleet Marina. Windes spent the day supervising the removal of dozens of boats from her marina.
“Hurricane could help move red tide off Treasure Coast” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Michael could cause winds along Florida’s East Coast to shift from easterly, which has been bringing red tide onto shore, to southerly beginning late Tuesday morning. “More southerly winds, plus the south-to-north movement of the Gulf Stream, could help move red tide out of our area,” said Malcolm McFarland, a research associate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Fort Pierce. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that October typically brings particularly high tides, known as “king tides,” to Florida’s East Coast, said Jessie Smith, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Melbourne. McFarland said he’s concerned the “king tides” could help push “large populations” of red tide onto Treasure Coast beaches and possibly into the Indian River Lagoon via the St. Lucie Inlet.
“Exxon Mobil pulls staff from Gulf platform” via CNBC — Exxon Mobil said it was evacuating personnel from a Gulf of Mexico platform … Michael is tracking through the energy-producing area of the Gulf of Mexico and expected to make landfall near the Florida Panhandle. The world’s largest publicly traded oil producer does not currently expect the staff reduction at its Lena production platform to affect output, spokeswoman JulieKing said. (Reuters added that BP “has shut down production at four rigs … The platforms evacuating personnel and shutting down production include its Atlantis, Mad Dog, Ka Kika, and Thunder Horse facilities, the company said.”)
Long-term facilities prepping for storm — Florida Health Care Association Executive Director Emmett Reed provided the following statement: “Our team is in constant communication with long-term care facilities in the areas that could potentially be affected by the storm, and we are coordinating efforts with federal, state, and local authorities as well as our transportation and utility partners. As always, our top priority is the safety and well-being of every resident and staff member at our centers. Each facility is required to have a detailed emergency management plan that outlines the steps it will take in the event of an emergency, and centers are making preparations in accordance with these plans.”
Pet and livestock movement requirements suspended — Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam announced Monday the temporary suspension of intrastate requirements for the transportation of animals from the areas expected to be impacted by Hurricane Michael. Additionally, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi have waived their interstate import requirements for Florida pets and livestock. “By suspending the movement requirements for the transportation of animals, we can ensure that Floridians and visitors can quickly and safely move their pets and livestock out of harm’s way,” Putnam said.
A relevant interview — Former FEMA Administrator CraigFugate offers hurricane-related insights in a podcast episode on SalterMitchell PR’s “Fluent in Floridian.” He discusses the Waffle House Index, thunderbolt exercises, and why “time is your most precious commodity, and you need to be moving toward action.” Fugate served as the head of FEMA under former President BarackObama. From 2001-2009, Fugate served as the director of Florida’s Emergency Management Division, leading the state through some of its most notable storms.
Wi-Fi in a pinch — Florida Internet & Television announced that Comcast’s Xfinity Wi-Fi would be available free of charge to Northwest Floridians in Hurricane Michael’s path. Visit here to see a map of hotspot locations.
“Florida Southern College poll: ‘Narrow lead’ for Andrew Gillum” via Florida Politics — A new poll shows “a narrow lead” for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum over his Republican counterpart, DeSantis. But the poll, by the Florida Southern College Center for Polling and Policy Research, has a roughly 4½-point margin of error, and Gillum’s lead is just over 3 points. Gillum received just over 47 percent support, compared to DeSantis’ nearly 44 percent. “While our results show a small degree of separation between the candidates, this race is still up for grabs,” said ZacharyBaumann, a professor of political science at the school and the center’s director.
“Matching money keeps adding up for DeSantis, Gillum” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Statewide candidates got five more checks for matching funds totaling $448,517, with the bulk going to the gubernatorial campaigns of Republican DeSantis and Democrat Gillum … DeSantis received a check for $153,470 on Friday to bring his overall state matching-funds total to just over $1.52 million. Gillum got a check for $266,838 — his third straight weekly check of more than $230,000 — and had received nearly $1.37 million from the controversial program, which provides matches for individual contributions of $250 or less to candidates’ campaign accounts.
“Unions pump money into Gillum election bid” via the News Service of Florida — State and national unions in late September spent at least $1.6 million to back Gillum … The $1.6 million came in three contributions to Forward Florida, a political committee closely linked to Gillum’s campaign. The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees and the American Federation of Teachers each contributed $750,000, according to the report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Meanwhile, a Florida Education Association political committee contributed $100,000. In all, Forward Florida raised nearly $4.86 million during the period and had about $4.1 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 28, the report shows.
“As rivals target Gillum for Tallahassee’s high crime rate, residents wonder: Are we really the worst?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The area has indeed ranked first the past few years, a local problem that has become a statewide one for Tallahassee Mayor Gillum … Locals have a variety of theories about why the crime rate is so high. It’s from growing pains, faulty statistics or stark economic inequality. But if there’s one thing most seem to agree on, it’s that their fair city doesn’t feel like the poster child for crime. “When I talk about crime to people who are from bigger cities like Miami and Atlanta, they literally laugh at me,” says Christic Henry, a realtor and former president of Tallahassee’s Council of Neighborhood Associations. Technically, it’s Leon County, not Tallahassee, that has had the highest crime rate in Florida for the past four years, according to state data. The data shows that Tallahassee, the only city in the county, with two-thirds of the overall population, was the driver. Tallahassee police reported nearly 80 percent of the county crimes last year. On its own, Tallahassee’s crime rate ranks 28th in the state among more than 500 police departments.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Protesters wave signs hours before Trump visit to Orlando” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Hours before Trump addressed an international convention of police chiefs, a handful of protesters outside the Orange County Convention Center waved signs that said “Sexual Predators Belong in Jail Not as President or Supreme Court” and “We Wish You Were Fake News.” Cheyenne Drews wore a long red dress and a white wimple resembling the character “Offred” in the TV series and novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Drews said she wanted to show that the United States was getting closer to the female oppression depicted in the dystopian story written by author Margaret Atwood. Outside the convention center, three Democratic Florida lawmakers and a Florida House candidate called Trump and Gov. Scott “BFFs,” slang for “best friends forever.” They said Scott didn’t oppose Trump proposals to gut key provisions of Obamacare and tried to block women’s access to health care.
“Amid amped up scrutiny, North Carolina investor targeted by feds became top Florida GOP donor” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida -A North Carolina investor targeted in a federal investigation of “drug offenses, crimes against financial institutions, or money laundering crimes”has emerged as one of Florida’s largest individual Republican political donors this election cycle, giving to a range of officials and sending $350,000 to committees supporting Senate candidate Gov. Scott. Businessman Greg Lindberg, whose companies are at the center of the federal probe, gave campaign cash to dozens of Florida politicians and political committees over an eight-month span. Recipients include powerful legislative leaders in line to control the Florida House and Senate for years to come. Lindberg’s sudden interest in Florida politics coincides with increased scrutiny from Florida insurance regulators after years of wrangling with Lindberg companies, some of which are tied to the federal probe. Federal investigators are separately seeking reams of documents from at least seven companies tied to Lindberg and Eli Global, the North Carolina-based investment firm he founded. Those companies are listed on a federal subpoena, which was first reported by WRAL in North Carolina. The federal subpoena seeks records from companies “associated with Eli Global.”
“Florida TaxWatch on Amendments: No on 1, Yes on 2” via Florida Politics — A simple message emerged from Florida TaxWatch on a media call regarding two amendments on the November ballot. No on Amendment 1, which would increase the homestead exemption by $25,000 to $125,000, asserting that the proposal penalizes everyone and benefits a few people. Yes on Amendment 2, which would permanently extend a cap of 10 percent on yearly increases of property taxes on parcels and structures without a homestead exemption, extending a ten-year-old cap approved by voters by referendum in 2008. Per polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, both measures look likely to pass.
“Billionaires, Ben & Jerry’s back felons’ rights amendment” via Florida Politics — Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which led the drive to get Amendment 4 on the ballot, received 138 contributions for the week of Sept. 22 through Sept. 28. More than 100 of those receipts came in from individuals who gave $250 or less, but the top end of the donor roll featured some heavy hitters. Florida — based philanthropist Marsha Laufer, the wife of Henry Laufer, chipped in $250,000, the same amount she gave Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum earlier in the month. Boston billionaire Seth Klarman also showed up with a check for a quarter million, with a quartet of individuals and entities combining for another $85,000 in contributions. Floridians for a Fair Democracy, chaired by Desmond Meade, also received nearly $95,000 worth of “in-kind” support for the weeklong reporting period. Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was the source of about $56,000 of that support via digital advertising, while the American Civil Liberties Union provided more than $11,000 in staff time.
“Farmers, ranchers, sportsmen now oppose dog-racing ban” via Florida Politics — Amendment 13, which would need at least 60 percent approval on the November ballot, would ban betting on greyhound racing by the beginning of 2021. The coalition — made up of Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, the NRA, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, Future of Hunting in Florida and Florida Sportsmen United Political Committee — asks Floridians to “consider the impacts on our businesses, our food providers and our rights to hunt and fish, and vote no on Amendment 13.” “Amendment 13 could have wide-ranging impacts on Florida’s farmers and our ability to provide food for Americans,” said Dr. Liz Steele, a veterinarian in Zolfo Springs, a member of the Florida Farm Bureau and a member of the executive committee for the Florida Cattlemen’s Association. “I am seriously concerned about adding language like this to our state’s Constitution,” Steele added. “For our farms, for our families, for our dinner tables, vote ‘no’ on Amendment 13.”
Happening today (tentative based on the hurricane)— The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida is hosting a discussion about 12 proposed constitutional amendments slated for the Nov. ballot. Among the speakers will be Jon Mills, a former dean of the university’s law school and a former speaker of the Florida House, 6 p.m., University of Florida, Pugh Hall Ocora, Gainesville.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —
“Donna Shalala ‘sleeping on the job?’ NRCC thinks so” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new web video from the National Republican Congressional Committee accuses Democratic candidate Shalala of sleepwalking through her campaign in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The NRCC, which aims to help elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, is backing Shalala’s opponent in the race, former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar. The group has named Salazar to its “Young Guns” campaign. The video from the NRCC, titled “Tired Out,” argues Shalala is falling behind in the contest. “Donna Shalala has been sleeping on the job,” reads the text on the screen. “Even Democrats think so.”
Wes Clark endorses Nancy Soderberg in CD 6 — Former Clinton Administration alum Nancy Soderberg picked up an endorsement from former 4-star general and 2004 Presidential candidate Wes Clark. “I worked closely with Nancy when she was on the National Security Council and UN, and I’ve watched her defend American interests around the globe. She has fiercely fought for our values; building peace in the Balkans, forging a cease-fire in Northern Ireland, standing up to terrorists, and so much more,” Clark said. The Clark endorsement was part of a raft of military endorsements for the Democrat running to replace DeSantis in Congress. The nods from two 4-Star Generals, three Lieutenant Generals, one Brigadier General, one Colonel, one Captain, and three Rear Admirals “highlight the respect Nancy Soderberg has earned from leaders in our military over her decades of work safeguarding our national security,” asserted a media release.
“Stephanie Murphy ad touts assistance for veterans in CD 7 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, “Sarah,” is launching on Orlando television seeking to position Murphy as someone who fights for veterans. In the ad, Sarah Barton talks about the service of her father, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Gerald Birman, how the family struggled to obtain survivors’ benefits after he died, and how Murphy got it cleared up through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “We were a proud military family. We needed to care for my mother and these benefits were tied up in red tape and bureaucracy. My father earned these benefits for his family,” Barton states in the ad. “We were in dire straits. Stephanie Murphy took on the bureaucracy and did what was right for me and my family. “She really cares for veterans and her families. This is her passion,” Barton concludes.
Everglades Trust endorses Brian Mast For re-election — Clean water advocacy group The Everglades Trust is endorsing U.S. Rep. Mast to represent Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “Most politicians pay lip service. Very few back their words with action and action is exactly what Floridians and these waterways desperately need. Mast is the first Member of Congress representing this district to step up in such a powerful and immediate fashion to address the devastating conditions that have been plaguing the northern estuaries and Everglades for decades,” said Kimberly Mitchell, executive director of the Everglades Trust.
Happening today — Democrat Lauren Baer, who is seeking to unseat Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, will speak at a meeting of the Western Communities of West Palm Beach Democratic Club, 7 p.m., Vista Center, 2300 North Jog Road, West Palm Beach.
“Carlos Curbelo and Debbie Mucarsel Powell’s race tops nationwide TV spending” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — A list of the top 10 House races by TV spending from Kantar Media shows Florida’s 26th Congressional District at the top of the list, with $16.9 million spent so far, according to consultancy group Kantar Media. The race between Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell is competitive, and Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign and her Democratic allies have been spending at a clip of about $1 million a week on TV ads for the past month. The $16.9 million includes spending from outside groups that are not affiliated with either campaign, like a Paul Ryan-backed super PAC that has launched ads attacking Mucarsel-Powell, though the campaigns themselves get favorable rates on TV advertising compared to outside groups.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Direct mail roundup: Kayser Enneking, Keith Perry release dueling mailers in SD 8” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Perry and Enneking have been sending out mailer after mailer pitching themselves as the best candidate for the job in Alachua County-based SD 8. As he’s done throughout the election cycle, Perry put out another mailer this week tying his campaign to a referendum that would transfer the governance of Gainesville Regional Utilities from the City Commission to a five-member panel. “What does the Gainesville City Commission want to do instead of lowering GRU rates?” one side of the mailer says. “Spending $190,000 on a sessional ice rink while residents can’t pay their bills … Seriously?!” … Enneking’s mailer dogged Perry for his vote of the “toilet-to-tap” bill that would have allowed chemically treated, recycled water to be pumped into the state’s underground aquifer. “You won’t believe what Keith Perry voted to pump into our drinking water,” the ad reads. … “Our environment is sick and Tallahassee politicians are only making the water worse,” Enneking says on the flipside.
“Perry, Enneking top $1.1 million in Senate battle” via the News Service of Florida — Perry raised $75,450 for his campaign account from Sept. 15 through Sept. 28, bringing the overall total to $611,242. Perry’s campaign had about $352,000 in cash on hand as of Sept. 28. Enneking, meanwhile, raised $43,670 during the two-week period, bringing her overall total to $496,895, the reports show. She had about $55,000 in cash on hand.
“Jeff Brandes still up double digits in re-election battle”via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Brandesis sitting pretty a month out from Election Day according to a new poll of the SD 24 contest between him and Democratic nominee Lindsay Cross. The St. Pete Polls survey found the longtime lawmaker up 52-41 percent with the remaining 7 percent of voters in the Pinellas County district unsure how they’d vote come November. … The fresh poll, conducted Oct. 6 and 7, shows a marked decrease in undecided voters from the same pollster’s previous measure, where Brandes led 39-19 percent with 42 percent of voters undecided … that lead is partially attributable to his strong support among Republicans and independent voters, whom he carries by an 81-15 percent and 47-42 percent margin, respectively. … he also holds a clear lead among nearly every slice of the electorate, including a 16-point edge among non-Hispanic white voters, who make up 90 percent of SD 24’s voting age population.
Florida Medical Association endorses Brandes for another term — The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC), is endorsing Brandes in his re-election bid to Senate District 24. FMA PAC President, Dr. Mike Patete stated, “The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Brandes for re-election. We’ve worked closely with him during his time in the House and Senate and we look forward to continuing our work to ensure Florida patients have the very best health care.” SD 24 includes much of Pinellas County.
“David Perez edges Manny Diaz in latest fundraising haul” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The candidates for Senate District 36 were in a virtual dead heat in the latest fundraising period, each approaching $100,000 raised between their respective campaigns and political committees. Perez, the Democratic nominee, earned just $12,645 in donations to his campaign from Sept. 15 to 28. But his political committee, Floridians for Change, brought in $84,600 during the same period for a total of $97,245. His Republican opponent, Diaz, hauled in $70,000 to his campaign. That was bolstered by $27,000 in donations to his political committee, Better Florida Education. That left him just $245 short of Perez, with $97,000 raised in total.
Happening today — State and congressional candidates will participate in a meet-and-greet event held by the LGBTQ advocacy group SAVE. Democrat Jason Pizzo, running in Miami-Dade’s House District 38, will offer opening remarks. Others expected to take part include state Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami; state Reps. Robert Asencio of Miami, Javier Fernandez of South Miami, Nicholas Duran of Miami; as well as Democratic congressional candidates Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Mary Barzee Flores; and state House candidates James Harden, Jeffrey Solomon, Michael Grieco, Javier Estevez and Cindy Polo. Event begins 6 p.m., SAVE headquarters, 1951 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami.
Happening today (tentatively) — State Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota joins other Democratic candidates at an Indivisible Northeast Sarasota event. Others expected to take part include David Shapiro, who is running in Florida’s 16th Congressional District; Oliva Babis, who is running in state Senate District 23; and Liv Coleman, who is running in state House District 73. Event begins 5:30 p.m., Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.
— NPA DATA —
Colleen Branam, a former nonparty affiliate, joined the Democratic Party after realizing she otherwise couldn’t vote in the state’s closed primaries.
Notes SteveBousquet for the Tampa Bay Times, “Tens of thousands of Florida voters have made the same change in recent months. What effect these party-switchers will have on the outcome will depend largely on turnout on Nov. 6, four weeks from Tuesday.”
Branam “was one of nearly 4,800 no-party voters to make the switch in Pinellas County, compared to 860 in the same time period in the last midterm election four years ago,” writes Bousquet.
Other shifts: “Florida voters also switch between the two major parties, but those changes offset each other. For example, so far in Hillsborough this year, about 2,900 Democrats became Republicans and about 2,100 did the reverse.”
In Hillsborough: “6,297 no-party voters switched to the Democratic Party this year, compared to 1,404 in 2014.”
In Osceola: … “The shadow of Disney World, home to an expanding Puerto Rican community, 3,181 former independents became Democrats compared to 349 four years ago.”
— STATEWIDE —
“A half-billion dollar payday: Motorola wins final OK for state radio contract” via Florida Politics — The Department of Management Services (DMS) will enter into final negotiations with Motorola Solutions to take over the state’s law enforcement communications network, the company announced Monday. DMS Secretary Erin Rock issued a final order, accepting a recommendation by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper to dismiss a protest by Harris Corp., which previously had the contract … The new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) buildout — valued at over half a billion dollars — is scheduled to begin in 2020.
“Policy adviser recommends its Florida school district clients not adopt medical marijuana rules” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Neola, the firm several districts have hired to maintain and revise their policy manuals, has advised its clients not to adopt any rules. Key to its rationale is Neola’s observation that the Florida statute, adopted after a 2016 statewide referendum, violates federal law. “It has been, and continues to be, our position that the policies and procedures mandated by F.S. §1006.26(8) would violate Federal law, including, but not limited to, The Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and The Drug-Free Workplace Act. Neola is concerned that if a District adopts a policy in response to F.S. §1006.062 and the Federal government decides to strictly enforce existing Federal law, the District would be in a position to lose Federal grant funds,” Neola president Dick Clapp wrote to client districts, which include Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties. Clapp further noted the section of the Florida constitution allowing medical marijuana does not give immunity under federal law and does not require schools to permit the on-site use of medical marijuana.
“Supreme Court openings get dozens of applications” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics— Despite a looming legal challenge, nearly 60 people have applied for three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, including Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s former chief of staff. Carlos Muniz, now the general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education, was on a list of names provided to Florida Politics by Gov. Rick Scott‘s office on Monday evening after a public record request … Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince face mandatory retirement on the same day that the term-limited Scott, a Naples Republican, leaves office. He is now running against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate. The next justices will likely determine the ideological balance of the state’s highest court.
— RENNER RUNDOWN —
State Rep. PaulRenner, a Palm Coast Republican slated to become House Speaker in 2023, lost his first election by two votes.
But that hasn’t stopped him from having a brief and already successful political career after having served in the Navy for 20 years.
In a new interview on the shores of Flagler Beach, Renner shares a bit of his personal history with FiTV President and CEO BradSwanson.
Military experience: Renner married his wife shortly before being deployed to Afghanistan. On camaraderie in the service, he said, “Because you’re doing something … where your life is at risk, there’s a bond between men and women that serve in the military.”
Why the Legislature?: “It seemed like the next step in public service,” Renner said. “I just wasn’t happy with where the country was headed.”
His goals: Renner is seeking to encourage greater economic development in his district. “So that kids growing up here will want to stay here, or want to come back.” In 2023, he hopes to leave a legacy. “If you can do things while you’re there that are game-changers … do that, and do that with a sense of urgency.”
“Michael Sittig: If Amendment 1 passes, most of us lose” via Florida Politics — When you go to the polls in November, there is more at stake than the general election. You’ll also be voting on Amendment 1 to the state constitution, and a no vote will help ensure that we won’t be hit right in the wallet. Florida’s property tax system is a complicated mess. Amendment 1 won’t fix it. Instead, it would make it worse and more complicated. Don’t be misled by the description of the amendment as a “homestead exemption increase.” Amendment 1 is not fair. Some pay less, but millions pay more. The state politicians call it a tax break, but it’s actually a tax SHIFT. Most of the tax breaks go to a handful of homeowners. Less than one-fourth of Florida’s properties fall into that narrow category. This means that more than three-fourths of the properties owned by small-business owners, manufacturers and working families will carry a heavier load. Shouldn’t Florida’s tax system work across the board for all of us who own property, not just a select few?
“Charles Steele Jr.: Marsy’s Law Amendment 6 takes on inequality in justice system” via Florida Politics — Right now, victims of crimes are among those whose voices are falling on deaf ears. Too many crime victims feel ignored and left out of the justice process. Many victims feel the person who committed the crime against them has more rights than they do. Crime victims, many of whom are at the most vulnerable points of their lives, should be treated with equality and fairness. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference stands for equity. Protecting and strengthening crime victims’ rights falls in line with our pursuit of equality and justice. That is why I am proud to support Florida’s Amendment 6, also known as Marsy’s Law for Florida. Floridians have the opportunity to give a greater voice to a group of people who deserve it — crime victims. I have been honored to lend my voice to victims and I encourage all Floridians to stand in support of crime victims by voting yes on Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida on Nov. 6.
— INTERESTING READS —
“Interest groups compete for Trump’s TV attention” via Julie Bycowicz and Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — An ethanol group in a high-stakes battle with the oil industry devised its television advertising strategy with a single viewer in mind: Trump. Its 30-second commercial with an Iowa corn farmer arguing for a higher percentage of ethanol in gasoline has been in rotation on Fox News since July. Competing ads represent an effort to grab the attention of the world’s most powerful TV viewer, and a belief by Washington’s influence industry that Trump can be swayed by what he sees on TV. Ad revenue for the programs Trump watches most closely is on the rise, with Sean Hannity ticking up to $18.8 million between April and June of this year, compared with $17.5 million in the second quarter of 2016, according to Kantar Media. Fox & Friends made $22 million in ad revenue in the second quarter of this year, compared with $15.7 million in the same period of 2016, Kantar Media says.
“MSNBC’s Ali Velshi in Tallahassee on Trump, lies and news” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The newsman defended his profession against complaints of bias against Trump but conceded that continually having to call out the president’s “lies” can give rise to the appearance of anti-Trump sentiment. Velshi, a veteran business and foreign correspondent and anchorman for MSNBC, told members of the EconomicClubofFloridathat Trump routinely misrepresents the facts in intentional defiance of the truth … “That rally in Mississippi the other day? There were 63 straight lies. This guy lies with a velocity we’ve never seen before. Is that a bias against President Trump to point out times when the president of the United States lies?”
— ALOE —
“Facebook wants people to invite its cameras into their homes” via Michael Liedtke and Barbara Ortutay of The Associated Press — Facebook is launching the first electronic device to bear its brand, a screen and camera-equipped gadget intended to make video calls easier and more intuitive. Facebook is marketing the device, called Portal, as a way for its more than 2 billion users to chat with one another without having to fuss with positioning and other controls. The device features a camera that uses artificial intelligence to automatically zoom as people move around during calls. But pointing an artificially intelligent camera into peoples’ homes could well raise other privacy questions. “The first thing consumers are going to wonder is ‘how much sensitive data is this collecting about me?’” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy of telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group that has received donations from Facebook and other tech companies.
“Pizza is better made with New York water. Here’s how we know.” via Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times — Top Slice, a mostly takeout pizzeria that opened at 21 3rd St. North downtown in June, would prove it, once and for all and unequivocally: New York water is elemental when it comes to good pizza. New York City is the nation’s largest municipal water supplier, 90 percent of which comes from the Catskill/Delaware watershed about 125 miles north of New York. The water passes through the world’s largest ultraviolet disinfection facility … treated with chlorine, phosphoric acid and sodium hydroxide to disinfect it and raise the pH level to around 7.2 (a pH of 7.0 is considered pure water) … what makes New York water New York water is the unique composition of total dissolved solids, calcium and magnesium in very specific proportions, plus that neutral pH. These chemicals help activate the glutens in flours without making them too tough or too weak. Top Slice in St. Petersburg is the first restaurant in Florida to install the New York Watermaker system, a big gray box above the soda fountain that works silently to give this colorless, transparent, odorless, tasteless liquid a New York accent.
Happy birthday to Senate President Joe Negron, stateRep. Ben Diamond and former Rep. Janet Atkins, as well as our dear friend Keyna Cory, and Tia Mitchell.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
As Hurricane Michael bears down on the Florida Gulf Coast, AmyZubaly — the executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association — on Monday said her group was “in contact with public power communities across Florida and the Southeast.”
They were “lining up mutual aid crews prepared to assist affected areas of the Florida Panhandle and Big Bend region.”
The association was “bringing hundreds of mutual aid personnel into the City of Tallahassee,” she added, with the “goal (of having) at least 150 crew members pre-staged in Tallahassee tomorrow in advance of the storm’s landfall with the remainder prepared to arrive Thursday.
Mutual aid partners provide power restoration crew members, supplies and equipment, she explained. Florida’s public power communities also have forged mutual aid arrangements with Florida’s investor-owned utilities.
“Crews from Lafayette, Louisiana, will travel to Tallahassee tomorrow and will mobilize alongside crews from many of Florida’s public power utilities.
“Additional crews from several other states and parts of Florida are also standing by. We are also closely monitoring potential needs in Havana, Chattahoochee, Blountstown and Quincy.”
Shot: Florida “families need to get ready for this storm RIGHT NOW.” — Gov. RickScott, tweeting Monday.
Chaser: “Departing Washington, D.C. for the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida. Look forward to seeing everyone soon.” — President DonaldTrump, also tweeting Monday.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
Gov. Scott announced on Twitter that state offices will be closed Tuesday through Thursday in the 35 counties where a state of emergency has been declared. That declaration stretched from Escambia County in the western end of the Panhandle to Columbia County in North Central Florida and Levy County along the Gulf Coast. An expansion added Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union and Baker counties. Also, Scott asked Trump to declare what is known as a “pre-landfall emergency” for the state.
Floridians face a Tuesday deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election. Slightly more than 13 million voters were registered for the August primaries.
The 11th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will interview candidates for a vacancy created by the resignation of Circuit Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan. The 11th Judicial Circuit handles cases in Miami-Dade County. That’s at 8:30 a.m., K&L Gates, LLP, 200 South Biscayne Blvd., 39th floor, Miami.
The 13th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission will interview candidates for a vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Claudia Rickert Isom. The 13th Judicial Circuit hears cases from Hillsborough County. That’s at 9 a.m., law offices of Bush Ross, P.A., 1801 North Highland Ave., Tampa.
A panel of Florida International University faculty members will discuss red tide, which has plagued the state’s Gulf Coast and recently been found in Atlantic coastal areas. That’s at 10 a.m., Florida International University, Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Parkview Hall, 11200 S.W. Eighth St., Miami.
State Rep. Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat, and other Democratic candidates are expected to appear at an Indivisible Northeast Sarasota event. Others include DavidShapiro, running in Congressional District 16; OlivaBabis, running in state Senate District 23; and LivColeman, running in state House District 73. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota.
Numerous state and congressional candidate are expected to take part in a meet-and-greet event held by the LGBTQ advocacy group SAVE. That’s at 6 p.m., SAVE headquarters, 1951 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami.
The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida will host a discussion about 12 proposed constitutional amendments slated for the Nov. 6 ballot. Among the speakers will be JonMills, a former dean of the university’s law school and a former speaker of the Florida House. That’s at 6 p.m., University of Florida, Pugh Hall Ocora, Gainesville.
Democrat LaurenBaer, seeking to unseat GOP U.S. Rep. BrianMast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, is slated to speak during a meeting of the Western Communities of West Palm Beach Democratic Club. That’s at 7 p.m., Vista Center, 2300 North Jog Road, West Palm Beach.