The dog days of summer are here.
While July is generally considered one of the slowest months in Florida politics, that doesn’t seem to be the case this year.
Two special elections in South Florida mean election season is already in full swing, and 2018 hopes are keeping pace, even with rising temperatures. And with committee meetings starting in just over two months, it seems as if we’re already racing toward the start of the 2018 Legislative Session.
Still, summer is a time to kick back by the pool or on the beach, enjoy some down time, and maybe even read a good book. So we reached out to Florida politicos to find out what they were reading for pleasure this summer.
Here are their responses:
Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee mayor and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful
“Like Trees, Walking,” by Ravi Howard. Written by the mayor’s brother-in-law, the novel is inspired by a 1980s lynching in Alabama.
Gwen Graham, former congresswoman from Tallahassee and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful
“Giant of the Senate,” by Sen. Al Franken. “Sometimes we all need to take a step back and laugh a little. Senator Franken’s journey from Saturday Night Live to progressive champion is hilarious and inspiring,” she said. “I hope it encourages more people to enter public service. No matter what your background is, Al Franken proves we all have a contribution to make in the public square.
Adam Putnam, Agriculture Commissioner and 2018 Republican gubernatorial hopeful
Putnam said he’s reading three books on the road this summer: “The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” by Candice Millard; “Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill,” by Candice Millard; and “Rum Punch: A Novel,” by Elmore Leonard. “I love books about history, but I like to toss in a good fiction that has deep roots in Florida,” he said.
Matt Caldwell, state representative and 2018 Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner
An avid reader, Caldwell said he is currently reading three books as he travels across the Sunshine State: “Hard Scrabble,” by John Graves, which is on loan from his uncle; “Cracker History of Okeechobee,” by Lawrence Will, which was a gift to him from Rep. Ray Rodrigues; and “The Plantagenets,” Dan Jones, which he picked at a bookstore.
Denise Grimsley, state senator and 2018 Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner
Currently reading: “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life,” by Joanna Weaver. Grimsley said she’s reading it because “in the fast pace of a statewide race and my professional career, I need to stay focused on the real reason I do what I do. Martha was more concerned about cleaning and Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learned. All I do is meaningless without my faith. I don’t want to be a Martha, I want to be a Mary.”
Jeremy Ring, former state senator and Democratic candidate for CFO
Ring is currently reading two books by Michael Singer — “The Untethered Soul” and the “Surrender Experiment.” The Margate Democrat got the chance to meet with the author this summer and really enjoyed the conversation, and getting to know him and understanding his teachings.
Jay Fant, state representative and Republican candidate for Attorney General
Just finished: “The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For,” by David McCullough. “Anything he writes is worth reading, and this is a short compilation of his best speeches,” said Fant.
“I always read baseball books in the summer, too, and am a few pages into Terry McDermott‘s ‘Off Speed,'” he continued. “What’s missing is a good fiction to round it out, but I’m still in the hunt for that.”
Jim Boyd, state representative
Current read: “Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics,” by Ed Rollins. Up next: Hamilton.
Dane Eagle, state representative
“Sunburn. Every morning. #plug”
Jason Fischer, state representative
“Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constitution,” by Mary E. Adkins. “It came highly recommended by a friend, and for me, it’s a very timely read,” said Fischer about his summer read. “I’m new to the legislature, just served my first Session (and special), and I’m watching the Constitutional Revision Commission with great interest. Definitely worth it!”
Chris Latvala, state representative
“Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” by Jonathan Allen and Aime Parnes.
Evan Axelbank, a reporter with Fox 13 in Tampa Bay
“Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution” by Diane McWhorter. Axelbank called it an “amazing history of the civil rights movement in Birmingham.”
Heather Beaven, CEO of the Florida Endowment Foundation
Beaven said she’s taking “The Rise of a Praise Statesman: The Life and Times of George McGovern,” by Thomas Knock; “All the Gallant Men, An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor,” by Donald Stratton; and “The True Flag” on vacation with her.
Looking forward to finishing: “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign,” by Jonathan Allen and Aime Parnes. “Troy gave me his copy after he finished it, and it reminds me a lot of ‘Game Change’ in that despite most sources choosing to remain anonymous, it is obvious from the level of detail that most of it is accurate,” she said. “It is also well-written, especially considering how quickly it was published after the election. It contains many lessons (so far) for both sides of the aisle to help make sense of … where we are at.”
She’s also planning to give the “2017 Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual” a read. “As a new-ish employee of the First Amendment Foundation and a longtime supporter, there is no better time than the present to educate myself further on the specifics of our state’s all-too important Sunshine Law,” she said. “You can still order a copy at Floridafaf.org to add some ‘sunshine’ to your stay/vacation or to add this resource to your personal library.”
Candace Bunker, manager of legislative and Cabinet Affairs for Citizens Property Insurance Corp.
“Devotion,” by Adam Markos.
Rivers Buford, with the American Heart Association|American Stroke Association
“I’m reading Sunburn and Florida Politics on my iPad.”
Lyndsey Brzozowski, senior vice president at Bascom Communications & Consulting
Just finished: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by J.D. Vance. “I thought it was a truly fascinating and insightful read and am telling everyone to check it out,” she said.
Gayle Cannon, Columbia County Republican state committeewoman
Just finished: “Use of Force,” by Brad Thor. Now starting: “The Swamp: Washington’s Murky Pool of Corruption and Cronyism and How Trump Can Drain It,” by Eric Bolling.
Jennings Cooksey, an attorney with Hopping Green & Sams
Current reads: “A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking; “Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,” by Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Tantum Collins; and “House of Spies,” by Daniel Silva.
Gus Corbella, senior director of government law & policy at Greenberg Traurig
Corbella’s summer reading list includes “Fifty Inventions That Shaped The Modern Economy,” by Tim Harford; “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,” by Jon Meacham; “Just Kids,” by Patti Smith; “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Double Cup of Love,” both by Eddie Huag.
Dan Daley, Coral Springs vice mayor and an attorney at Shutts & Bowen
Currently reading (well, listening to) “Great Expectations,” by Charles Dickens. “I’d like to say it’s because I have ‘great expectations for the coming Legislative Session, but really, I just wanted to expand my literary knowledge,” he said when asked what prompted him to pick up the classic read this summer.
Julie Delegal, a contributing writer at Jacksonville Magazine and Folio Weekly
Liane Moriarty has me mesmerized: “The Hypnotist’s Love Story,” “What Alice Forgot,” “The Husband’s Secret.”
Christopher Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce
Currently reading: “The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For,” by David McCullough.
“David McCullough’s newest book is a collection of his speeches throughout the years — which is perfect for those looking for a series of short, powerful reads,” said Emmanuel, when asked why he decided to pick it up this summer. “The unifying theory of ‘The American Spirit’ is that the future has always been uncertain and is always shaped by the actions of individuals. By looking back at historical events through this lens, the reader leaves with an appreciation of our shared American history and a renewed motivation to act.”
Sally Everett, the director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs for the City of St. Petersburg
It’s the summer of David McCollough for Everett, who is reading “The Path Between the Seas” and “The American Spirit.”
“I love everything he’s written,” she said.
Cesar Fernandez, senior public policy associate at Uber
“The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” by Chris Whipple.
“I have always loved reading about the history of U.S. Presidents, and for a political junkie like myself, there’s no better way to absorb this history than through the lens of the White House Chief of Staff,” said Fernandez when asked why it made it onto his reading list. “Without giving too much away, the book opens with a scene from December 2007, when outgoing Chief of Staff to President Bush, Josh Bolton, convened a meeting of almost every living former Chiefs of Staff to give advice to President Obama’s incoming Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. It has always fascinated me that despite being the highest profile job in American politics, White House Chiefs of Staff from both parties have guided US Presidents through unpopular political decisions to do what’s best for the American people.”
Keith Fernandez, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s counsel and communications director
“Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie.
Chris Hand, co-author of “America, the Owner’s Manual: You Can Fight City Hall — and Win” with former Gov. Bob Graham
Currently reading: “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America,” by Gilbert King.
Hand also joked he’s giving his own book another read. “It’s so informative that I keep reading it over and over again,” he quipped.
Carrie Henriquez, a governmental affairs consultant with Henriquez Consulting
“Rereading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Obviously fiction but the title alone is indicative of the Trump administration.”
Clayton Hinson, director of accounts at Harris Media
“A Will to Win: The Manager’s Diary,” by Sir Alex Ferguson and David Meek.
Chris Hudson, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Florida
“The Prince by my favorite Florentine … again. Next up the ‘Vanishing American Adult’ by Ben Sasse.”
Carolyn Johnson, director of business economic development and innovation policy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce
Currently reading: “The Child,” by Fiona Barton.
David Johnson, Republican political consultant
Currently reading: “The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five Year Campaign,” by Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie; and “Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago,” by Mike Royko.
Johnson also recommends “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Ever Presidency,” by Chris Whipple.
Jeff Johnson, state director for AARP Florida
“Tattoos on the Heart,” by Gregory Boyle, S.J., which Johnson called a “great and challenging perspective on living out what it means to be Church in the center of the gang capital of the U.S.;” and “The Exceptional Seven Percent,” by Gregory Popcak, which Johnson said is a “very interactive book on how to build an exceptional marriage based on studies of the blissfully happy.”
In case you’re wondering: Johnson said he doesn’t just read books by people named Gregory, and these books are ones he has “read multiple times and often give to friends because they’re so valuable.”
He also said he’s reading the Hamilton book over his daughter’s shoulder.
Charlie Justice, Pinellas County Commissioner
Current read: The latest from Randy Wayne White.
Collin Kenline, staffer for the Florida House of Representatives
Current read: “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman; recently reread “Ready Player One,” by Ernest Cline.
William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute
“Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.
Lara Medley, legislative aide to Rep. Colleen Burton
Medley said it’s the summer of Dan Jones — she read “The Plantagenets” and just started “The Hollow Crown.”
Timothy Meenan, managing shareholder Meenan PA
“Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.
Samuel McCall, Samsson Construction and A Civil Design Group
Currently reading: “Signing The Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence,” by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese.
Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy for the James Madison Institute
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid — but in fairness I’m reading it to my daughters at night.”
Samantha Padgett, vice president and general counsel at the Florida Retail Federation
Just finished: “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek. Padgett said she “loved it!!”
Connie Prince, wife of Sen. Jack Latvala
Current read: “A Man Called Ove,” by Fredrik Backman. Prince said it is a “great read … funny, sad, enjoyable … I think it reminds me of what my dad would have been like if still alive and that would have been 101.”
Currently reading “Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon,” by Jeffrey Kluger; and has “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by Neil deGrasse Tyson on CD to listen to.
Chris Quinn, vice president of industry and government affairs for JAX Chamber
“The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States 1783-1789,” by Ed Larson.
Tara Reid, an associate with Strategos Group
“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by J.D. Vance.
“It Can’t Happen Here,” by Sinclair Lewis.
Ross is in a book club with several other women in “The Process,” and they are currently reading “All the Missing Girls,” by Megan Miranda.
Preston Rudie, founder of Catalyst Communications Group and former communications director for former Rep. David Jolly
“Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse than You Think,” by Rep. Ken Buck.
Tim Stapleton, CEO of the Florida Medical Association
Currently reading: “The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse,” by Tom Verducci.
“I’m a long-suffering fan of the Cubs. This book offers a behind the scenes view of how the World Series championship team was built from the ground up,” said Stapleton about his selection. “It’s very similar to ‘Moneyball’ by Michael Lewis because it is not only a book about baseball but also about leadership and business!”
Mac Stipanovich, a Republican lawyer and lobbyist
“All things Virginia Woolf — diaries, essays, short fiction, reviews, novels, biography — but don’t know why.”
Kevin Sweeny, operations director for the Florida Justice PAC
Summer reads: “ Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are,” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz; “the Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics,” by David Goodhart; “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success,” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness; and “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America,” by Joan C. Williams.
“A Land Remembered,” by Patrick Smith. Urgo called the book a “fascinating story covering three generations of a Florida family beginning in the mid-1800s.”
Steve Vancore, partner at VancoreJones Communications and president of Clearview Research
Currently reading: “Public Opinion Quarterly: Survey Research, Today and Tomorrow.” Vancore says this about his summer selection: “A real page turner filled with romance and conflict. It also explores which form of polling is most valid and reliable. I won’t spoil the ending but it looks good for live operator phone polls.”
Erin VanSickle, director of external affairs at Volunteer Florida
Currently reading: “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency,” by Chris Whipple; “Behind the Red Door: Unlock Your Advocacy, Influence, and Success,” by Florida PR maven Karen More. And to keep things in perspective, VanSickle said she’s reading “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” by Yuval Noah Harari, which was recommended by Saif Ishoof, the vice president for engagement at Florida International University.
Sean White, a legislative analyst in the Senate Majority Office
‘The Gatekeepers’ by Chris Whipple, which was a gift from family back in the district.
Larry Williams, the owner and managing partner at Larry Williams Consulting
“My genre of preference is thrillers, with my favorite author being the late Vince Flynn and his protagonist Mitch Rapp. I am currently reading the 13th book in the Mitch Rapp Series, ‘Order to Kill’ written by Kyle Mills who took over the Rapp franchise when Vince passed away. Looking forward to reading the 14th book in the series, ‘Enemy of the State’ to be released in early September.
“I also like Ben Coes (protagonist is Dewey Andreas) and Brad Thor (protagonist is Scot Harvath) both characters similar to Mitch Rapp. I just finished reading Coes’ 7th book, ‘Trap the Devil’ and will be downloading Brad Thor’s 17th Harvath novel titled ‘Use of Force.’”
Michael Williams, managing director of media relations at CoreMessage
Current reads: “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis and John Sandford’s “Prey” Detective series.
Tyler Winik, legal affairs & special projects for the Brevard County Clerk of Circuit Court
“Rereading ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ by John Green. Over and over again. Favorite summer read.”
Brian Yablonski, chair of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
“English Creek” by Ivan Doig. “I allow myself to divert from non-fiction once or twice a year. This is my 2017 diversion.”
Amy Young, managing partner at Ballard Partners in West Palm Beach
“Like everyone else, I keep ‘Make Your Bed,’ by Adm. William McRaven on my nightstand. And, while I am on the beach, I’m reading ‘The Lose Your Belly Diet,’ by Travis Stork.”
Skylar Zander, the deputy state director, Florida for Americans for Prosperity
“The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise,” by Michael Grunwald.
Frank Zilaitis, an attorney at Zilaitis Law in Indialantic
Zilaitis said his copy of “The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z,” edited by Harry Binswanger, has been by his side all summer. “Pleasure reading? Yes, the ARL is pleasure reading in the sense that the results of the 2018 election cycle will dramatically affect the futures of Floridians,” he said. “The contents of the ARL are an effective tool for understanding the issues and passing judgment on politicians’ past performance and new candidates’ political platforms, from within Ms. Rand’s four-pronged paradigm of reality, reason, egoism, and capitalism.