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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.17.18

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

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

The race for Florida governor is essentially tied according to the first public poll conducted after Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle — and changed the course of state politics.

Twenty days before Election Day, Democrat Andrew Gillum is at 47 percent, while Republican Ron DeSantis is at 46. However, among those who say they have already voted, DeSantis is at 49 percent, while Gillum is at 45 percent.

Reform party candidate Darcy Richardson captures about 2 percent of the vote, while 5 percent of Florida voters are still undecided.

The poll comes with a definitive asterisk as respondents in the Panama City area, where Michael delivered his lethal blow, are under-sampled. A slight plurality of these voters typically support Republican candidates.

The survey was conducted by St. Pete Polls, has a sample size of 1,974 respondents and has a 2.2 percent margin of error.

The poll also ballot-tested the U.S. Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson and asked about voters felt about Scott and GIllum’s response to Hurricane Michael. To read those results, please click here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@APStylebook: Avoid the phrase “head to the polls.” It doesn’t account for the roughly 40 percent of the electorate that will cast a ballot before Election Day.

@SeungMinKim: It appears POTUS has been in quite a chatty mood lately.

@DeFede: This is the state of politics. On @cnn just now @WhiteHouse reporter @jeffzeleny said: “The many aides I talked to today simply did not want to address the question of horseface.” Let’s repeat that: “The question of horseface.” God save us.

@CHeathWFTV: If @ScottforFlorida can use pics of him flying over damage and handing out water, can @AndrewGillum use video of him cutting up trees with a chainsaw? If disaster response action pics are fair, then they are fair.

@JimRosicaFL: IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT FEMA ASSISTANCE, YOU DO NOW FROM THE SCREECHING @FLGovScott “GOVERNOR ALERT.”

@SchmitzMedia: FEC filings for #FL18 show @laurenbaer handily out-fundraised @BrianMastFL last quarter: about $1.4 million compared to Mast’s $687,000. Mast campaign still has more cash on hand – $1.4 million compared to Baer’s $774,000.

@NewsBySmiley: Tonight’s debate ended bizarrely, with Mayra Joli claiming that Salazar is funded by Illuminati.

—@Fineout: Six days after deadly Hurricane Michael ripped through Florida’s Panhandle nearly 137k customers in 11 counties remain without power. Several utilities have told state officials it will be at least 5 days before some of these customers get their electricity back

@LMower3: This is stunning. It will be a week tomorrow since #HurricaneMichael made landfall, and 98% of Calhoun County is still without power. Hurricane Irma outages weren’t nearly that bad 6 days later.

@Conarck: Washington Post has “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” TU’s new slogan should be, The Florida Times-Union: “Woke and broke.”

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

 

— DAYS UNTIL —

MLB World Series begins — 6; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 7; Early voting begins — 10; Halloween — 14; General Election Day — 20; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 31; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 34; Thanksgiving — 36; Black Friday — 37; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 41; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 55; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 118; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 139; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 142; 2020 General Election — 748.

— TOP STORY —

Death toll rises to at least 26 across the South after Hurricane Michael blamed for 16 deaths in Florida alone” via Jay Reeves of The Associated Press — Hurricane Michael killed at least 16 people in Florida, most of them in the coastal county that took a direct hit from the storm, state emergency authorities said Tuesday. That’s in addition to at least 10 deaths elsewhere across the South. The scope of the storm’s fury became clearer after nearly a week of missing-persons reports and desperate searches of the Florida Panhandle neighborhoods devastated by the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental U.S. in nearly 50 years.

— AFTER MICHAEL —

After Michael’s fury, hardest-hit counties say changes in voting are needed” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Tens of thousands of voters in one of Florida’s strongest Republican regions have not yet returned their mail ballots. Early voting in the hardest-hit counties is set to begin one week from Saturday, on Oct. 27. Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, chairman of the state association of supervisors, wants Scott to issue an executive order that provides greater flexibility to counties. Lux suggested that one solution is to allow counties to shift to an extended early voting system in which fewer bigger sites will remain open through 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 6. Lux said mail ballots might need to be sent to different counties because of disruptions in mail service, and he said provisions must also be made to assist relief workers stationed far from home who want to vote, and for displaced patients of nursing homes.

FEMA chief makes surprise visit to staff in Panhandle: ‘I want you out on the street’” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — FEMA Administrator Brock Long made an impromptu visit to Mexico Beach on Tuesday, surprising city officials still scrambling nearly a week after the storm to streamline communications and resources. A makeshift city hall sign guided Long’s caravan through a neighborhood where a FEMA trailer sat out of sight of the main beach road. “You’re not doing any good here,” he said to a group of FEMA employees standing under a tent. “I want you out on the street.”

Blackout: Florida towns face dark weeks without power” via Elizabeth Koh and Samantha Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — A week after Hurricane Michael’s rampage, large swaths of the Florida Panhandle and tens of thousands of residents face a dark, powerless future. Major utilities say it will still take weeks to repair downed lines and poles and reconnect customers — and that’s only for the homes and businesses in good enough shape to “take electrical service.” The reality is that mass damage left by Michael — which left a monster 80-mile-wide path of ruin — means it may take even more time to turn the lights back on in damaged structures.

Lawmakers wait to see of storm action needed” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The next leaders of the Florida Legislature say they’re ready to assist Gov. Rick Scott or state agencies in the recovery from devastating Hurricane Michael. They just need to be asked. “If the governor identifies an unmet need that requires swift legislative action, we will certainly work with him to address it,” said incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. But Galvano and incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva are not expecting such action until more is known about the impacts of the storm. Michael plunged more than 400,000 utility customers into the dark and leveled homes and businesses in a deadly path that cut north across rural Panhandle communities into Southwest Georgia. “In the here and now, if the governor or any agency needs resources or assistance for issues created by Hurricane Michael, the Florida House stands ready to help,” Oliva said.

Verizon gives customer credits in Bay, Gulf counties” via the News Service of Florida — Under scrutiny for outages after Hurricane Michael, Verizon said Tuesday its customers in hard-hit Bay and Gulf counties will be automatically credited for three months of mobile service. In recent days, officials including Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — who are competing in the November election for Nelson’s Senate seat — have taken aim at Verizon’s storm response. “Verizon is 100 percent focused on repairing our network in the Florida Panhandle,” the company said in the news release. “We are making progress every hour, and we expect that trend to continue at a rapid pace. We won’t rest until service is completely restored.”

Tallahassee power restoration to be ‘substantially complete’ by Wednesday, a week after Michael” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — On the morning of Day Six, 5,000 City of Tallahassee Utilities customers were still without power. Midtown and West Tharpe Street had a large number of the lingering outages Tuesday morning, according to the outage map. The map showed there were 5,304 homes and businesses still in the dark. By 4 p.m., that number was down to about 2,200 customers. “We know for those 5,000 customers that are out there, they’re frustrated,” said Rob McGarrah, the general manager of city of Tallahassee electric. “We are working to get them back on., but as we’ve talked. We have to go through the priority process to get on as many customers as we can the quickest.”

JM Family Enterprises donates $100,000 to American Red CrossBrent Burns, President and CEO of JM Family Enterprises, announced a $100,000 donation from the company to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Michael. The company is also matching up to $50,000 of associates’ contributions to four charities: American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon and the Florida Disaster Fund. Although company associates residing in Florida’s panhandle are safe, the storm severely affected states in which its dealer partners are located. JM Family’s subsidiary, Southeast Toyota Distributors, distributes vehicles, parts and accessories to 177 independent Toyota dealers in the five southeastern states. “Hurricane Michael was a devastating storm that left unimaginable damage in its wake,” Burns said. “Recovering from this level of storm can take months, even years. Responding to our communities during times of crisis is a part of who we are, and our thoughts will be with our neighbors to the north as they begin to recover and rebuild.”

UnitedHealth Group donates $500,000 to help residents of Florida Gulf coast region — UnitedHealth Group and its UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses are donating $500,000 to help residents of the Florida Gulf Coast region recover and rebuild from Hurricane Michael. UnitedHealth Group will donate the funds to the Florida Disaster Fund. The company is matching dollar-for-dollar donations employees make to charities supporting recovery efforts. “We are deeply concerned for the people affected by Hurricane Michael, and we are committed to supporting local communities in the Gulf Coast region as they recover and rebuild,” said David S. Wichmann, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group. “We are also taking action to ensure the people we serve have access to the care they need, and have worked to ensure the safety and well-being of our colleagues in the region.”

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

Andrew Gillum goes high — and low — in two new ads” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gillum is confronting Florida voters with mixed messages as he approaches the home stretch of his Democratic bid for Governor. Gillum’s campaign debuted two new ads on Tuesday, the three-week mark ahead of the Nov. 6 Election Day. One, a negative attack on his Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, criticizes the former congressman’s voting record on Medicare and social security. Another features one of his closest surrogates, wife R. Jai Gillum, who offers an overwhelmingly positive overview of her husband and his quest for the Governor’s Mansion.

To watch the first ad, click here.

To watch the second ad, click here:

More resiliency, preparation for high water needed, Ron DeSantis says” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — As Florida’s Panhandle staggers under damage inflicted by Hurricane Michael, the state should take steps to increase its resiliency and prepare for the effects of higher seas, Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis said Tuesday. The state can incentivize local governments to strengthen building codes, but decisions to increase construction requirements should be made locally, DeSantis told the Florida Times-Union’s editorial board. Asked if he acknowledged the human impacts on climate change, the former three-term congressman answered that “I think humans contribute to what goes on around us.”

Spanish spots forDeSantis” via Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida released on Tuesday a trio of Spanish-language ads on behalf of DeSantis. Making the pitches are two prominent Hispanic Republicans: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón. Rubio actually recorded two spots, with the Congresswoman picking up the third. One Rubio pitch was soft-focus and positive, with Rubio maintaining DeSantis “understands the importance of the state helping your family prosper.” In his second spot, Rubio made a more express appeal to the base, warning of “special interests from the extreme left, that are not from our state, spending millions of dollars in the governor’s campaign race.” González-Colón, meanwhile, affirmed DeSantis’ credentials in her spot.

To watch the videos, click on the images below:

Sheriffs back DeSantis, bash Gillum” via Florida Politics — A group of Republican Sheriffs from Central Florida endorsed DeSantis for Governor on Tuesday, spotlighting the alleged “anti-police” radicalism of Gillum in the bargain. Ahead of the primary, Adam Putnam was the runaway choice of most Sheriffs and police unions. Since late August, however, their support has largely (with the exception of a handful of Democratic Sheriffs) fallen in behind DeSantis. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd distilled the pro-DeSantis case neatly: “When I looked at this election, I asked myself a simple question that every voter should ask themselves: Do you want a governor who is a decorated veteran and former prosecutor, or a governor who ignored pleas from police for more support and more officers while crime skyrocketed in his city?”

Everglades Trust endorses DeSantis — Everglades Trust Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell issued a statement supporting DeSantis: “For some, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the importance of Everglades restoration, and the critical point we’ve reached. The tragic symptoms of a fatally-flawed water management system, kept broken to appease the sugar industry, are on full display for the world to see. Dead sea life and closed beaches on both coasts of Florida cannot be Florida’s new normal. And the days of the Everglades serving as a mere bullet point in an environmental platform should be over. They are in desperate need of a hero — and they found one in Ron DeSantis. Ron understands the critical infrastructure projects that must be undertaken and expedited, with the ability to make them a top priority, and already has a track record of standing up to an industry that is physically and politically blocking the reconnection of Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades – Big Sugar.”

Assignment editors — West Palm Beach health care professionals will hold a news conference to highlight DeSantis’ record and refusal to release a health care plan after 260 days on the campaign trail, 10:30 a.m., lot across from St. Mary’s Hospital, corner of 49th Street & Greenwood Avenue, West Palm Beach. RSVP to press@andrewgillum.com.

Assignment editors — Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Chris King joins health care professionals and local leaders for a news conference on running mate Gillum’s plan to expand access to affordable health care, 11:30 a.m., Barnett Park, 4801 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.

Happening today:

Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Jeanette Nuñez will attend several events in Central Florida: 10 a.m., Meet Your Candidates Day Event, Osceola Council on Aging, 700 Generation Pt., Kissimmee; 11:30 a.m., Venezuelan Round Table, Amaretto Bistro Latin Cuisine, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando; 2 p.m., meet & greet with Nuñez & Bob Cortes, Iglesia Puertas Del Cielo, 650 Doyle Road, Deltona; 5:30 p.m., annual members meeting, Greater Orlando Builders Association, 1953 Clayton Heritage Way, Maitland; 7:30 p.m., meet your candidates day event, South Side Umatilla Community Center, 17107 Ball Park Road, Umatilla.

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Tweet, tweet — and a reminder that there are substantial policy differences between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott:

Bill Nelson raises $5M, spends $10M in last reporting period” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Nelson raised $5.2 million during the most recent reporting period, a massive haul for the veteran senator but well behind Scott, whose campaign is buttressed by his personal wealth. Nelson’s campaign spent more than $11 million during the most recent reporting period, which covers Aug. 9 through Sept. 30.

Bill Nelson camp: Rick Scott’s dodging voters” via Florida Politics — Since Hurricane Michael became an imminent threat and then made a catastrophic landfall last week, Scott has been in emergency management mode. The Scott campaign has already teased the possibility of Scott no longer appearing on the trail at all, with his wife Ann Scott serving as a surrogate — of the sort who can’t be expected to answer policy questions. However, contends Dan McLaughlin (an adviser and former spox for Nelson), Scott leaving the trail is simply a “cynical attempt to avoid facing voters.” “We’re not going to let Rick Scott hide from voters in the last three weeks of a major election — especially while he’s significantly increasing his negative TV attack ads,” McLaughlin vowed.

Scott uses storm relief in contrast ad” via Florida Politics — Scott is dedicated largely to post-Michael recovery these days, and a new ad from his campaign is designed to remind voters of that fact. One tripwire for this spot: a third-party group (VoteVets) accusing Scott of using his familiar Navy ball cap for political optics while he “cheated” veterans, in an ad that got national coverage in outlets like Fox News. Another tripwire: a senior Nelson campaign hand charging Scott with using storm recovery as a way to dodge voters and media on the campaign trail, while spending $18 million on ad buys … including negative ads targeted against the Democratic incumbent. The Scott campaign decried all of this, somehow invoking the Senate Minority Leader in the process.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

New commercial fills Bill Nelson’s suit with scary things” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second television commercial “Lining” from New Republican Political Action Committee, the committee Republican Gov. Scott set up to support his U.S. Senate campaign, brings up all the charges previously pushed by the committee: Nelson voted to raise taxes; he’s collected government paychecks for 45 years, now totaling millions of dollars in pay; he voted to cut Medicare, and he made up a story about Russian interference … all because he’s confused.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

 — NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Progress Florida releases ‘Informed Voters’ Guide’ — The new guide, at www.FloridaBallotGuide.com, features the positions of not only Progress Florida, but also the recommendations of other good government, civic, and public interest watchdog organizations. To help voters make choices, the guide to the proposed constitutional amendments includes voting recommendations; short, easy-to-read, plain language explanations for each amendment; links to more in-depth information on each amendment provided by the League of Women Voters of Florida. Voters also can get the Voters’ Guide via mobile phone, by texting FLBALLOT to 30644.

Jimmy Patronis dominates in money chase in CFO campaign” via the News Service of Florida — Republican Chief Financial Officer Patronis and a closely linked political committee raised more than $950,000 during a two-week period in late September and early October, as Patronis continued to widen his financial edge over Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring, according to reports filed with the state Division of Elections. Patronis’ campaign raised $243,231 between Sept. 22 and Oct. 5, bringing the campaign’s overall total to $2.18 million since it began collecting contributions last November.

Foes of gambling amendment bringing cash” via the News Service of Florida — The committee Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3 had raised a total of $6.94 million as of Oct. 5. The contributions early this month included $750,000 from Gulfstream Park Racing Association and $100,000 each from FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. The committee also spent $1.367 million between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, with most of the money going for advertising expenses. The committee is fighting a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot that would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

Marsy’s Law group offers crime victims’ pleas in new Amendment 6 ads” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The commercials are part of the $30 million campaign being run by Marsy’s Law for Florida, a group created to push for “Marsy’s Law” victims’ rights laws much like those adopted in California and other states, pushed for by the family of Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California college student murdered in 1983. For the two new Florida campaign TV commercials, the fifth and sixth from Marsy’s Law of Florida, the real-life Florida victims are Ann Rowe of Tallahassee and Mary Futrill Petersen. In the first new 30-second ad, Rowe tells her own story, about how she was brutally raped and beaten outside her Tallahassee home two years ago. In the other ad, Petersen’s mother, Francis Futrill of Jacksonville, tells of her daughter, who was murdered in her own bed in 2002, her body discovered the next day by her 8-year-old son. The case remains unsolved.

To view Rowe’s ad, click on the image below:

To view Futrill’s ad, click on the image below:

Stephanie Murphy swamping Mike Miller in CD 7 money race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Rep. Murphy entered October with more than $1 million left to spend in her re-election bid, while her opponent Republican state Rep. Miller‘s campaign came into the home stretch almost broke. Miller managed to raise $304,000 since the pre-primary report filed Aug. 8, but he also spent a half-million dollars, in part on his Aug. 28 primary victory and in part on September and early October advertising to take on Murphy. As a result, his campaign had just $36,872 in the bank at the end of the third quarter … Murphy has both outraised and outspent Miller during the period, and still had $1.1 million in the bank left for more campaign spending on Sept. 30, according to the FEC reports. The latest reports show she raised $482,000 since the Aug. 8 pre-primary report and spent $967,000. Overall, Murphy has raised nearly $3 million; Miller, $869,000, including a $125,000 loan.

New DCCC ad on health care: ‘We can’t afford Brian Mast’via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released a new ad hitting U.S. Rep. Mast on his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year. Mast, the Republican incumbent in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, is attempting to defend his seat against Democratic challenger Lauren Baer. The DCCC’s new 30-second spot, titled “Down Here,” highlights Mast’s vote in the House to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Ultimately, a similar bill failed in the Senate, killing the GOP’s efforts. “Health care matters here in Florida,” the ad’s narrator begins. “The minute he got to Washington, Congressman Brian Mast forgot that.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad features photo of slain father” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell lost her dad at the age of 24 after he was gunned down in her native country of Ecuador. In her new 30-second ad, titled “Photo,” Mucarsel-Powell recounts that loss, and cites it as a motivator to strengthen gun control laws here in the U.S. “I never said goodbye,” Mucarsel-Powell begins, holding up a photo of her and her father. “My kids never met their grandfather. And this is the last photo I took with my father because he was killed by a criminal with a gun. So, when I tell you I’ll stand up to the NRA to protect our community, you can believe me.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Donna Shalala ahead by five in new DCCC poll” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey of Florida’s 27th Congressional District shows Shalala in the lead. That’s according to a poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which helps elect Democrats to the U.S. House. The survey puts Shalala at 44 percent. That’s 5 percentage points ahead of her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, who sits at 39 percent. Mayra Joli, a non-party affiliated candidate, earned 6 percent. The remaining 10 percent of voters are undecided.

‘Monster’ much? PAC launched to bash Maria Elvira Salazarvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Salazar is now being bashed by a former rival in the Republican primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Former candidate Stephen Marks, who came in fourth in the nine-person contest, has launched a new website and PAC, called MiamiAmerica. Marks’ aim appears to be hitting Salazar over her support, or lack thereof, of President Donald Trump. He also criticizes her conservative bona fides. The website aims to push voters toward third-party candidate Mayra Joli, who has made her support of Trump a pillar of her campaign. Among the claims made are that Salazar once called Trump a “monster,” that she does not see abortion as immoral, and that she proposed banning semi-automatic weapons.

‘Donna Shalala is our for herself,’ new ad arguesvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is going after Shalala over a 2006 janitor strike at the University of Miami, where Shalala served as president. The janitors sought a wage increase and the ability to unionize during the nine-week strike. At the time, janitors at the university were paid less than $7 per hour, according to reports at the time. The CLF, a super PAC aligned with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan that aims to elect Republicans to the House, recounts the episode in the Spanish-language ad, titled “$7.” “Donna Shalala is another politician who puts herself first,” the ad’s narrator begins in Spanish.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Sensing an upset, Paul Ryan-aligned super PAC attacks Donna Shalala” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Ryan, is running a Spanish-language ad targeting Shalala. The six-figure buy on TV and digital platforms is the super PAC’s first foray into retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s district, a Miami-based seat where Trump lost to Clinton by nearly 20 points. The ad titled “$7” tries to portray Shalala as out of touch with working-class voters in the district, noting that she lived in a mansion that eventually sold for $9 million while serving as the president of the University of Miami and led the university when its janitorial staff went on strike because their wages amounted to about $7 an hour. Shalala’s Republican opponent, former TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, levied a similar attack on Shalala during a recent Telemundo debate.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Second complaint filed against Janet Cruz” via David Bishop of FLANewsOnline.com — In a 51 page document sent to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and obtained by FLA News, Tampa resident Rocio Paulsen alleges Cruz actually lives in the 7800 square foot home owned by her husband on San Miguel Street in Hillsborough County, which is outside the House District Cruz currently represents. Paulsen’s letter to Speaker Corcoran alleges Cruz violates legislative rules and the Florida Constitution. Cruz rents a 1000 square foot home on Fremont Avenue inside the House District 62 boundaries she’s elected to represent. Rep. Cruz’ is also registered to vote at the Fremont Avenue rental home. But the complaint to House Speaker Corcoran raises several discrepancies. Another person is also registered to vote at the Fremont Avenue rental property.

Happening tonight:

 

Linda Jack hits Amber Mariano for ‘failed representation’ in new ad” via Florida Politics — New Port Richey Democrat Jack is out with a new ad hammering Republican Rep. Mariano in her quest to flip House District 36. The ad, titled “Better Leadership for West Pasco,” says Mariano has come up short in fulfilling the promises she made during her successful ouster of former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy two years ago. “Amber Mariano promised to prioritize education, she promised to provide millions of dollars for flood relief, she promised to represent us. West Pasco deserves better leadership,” the ad narrator says, over a title card reading “failed leadership.” The ad then shifts focus to Jack, a musician, educator, and veterinarian who has been campaigning for the state House since June 2017.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Happening tonight:

Happening today — Republican Joe Wicker raises money for his campaign for Hillsborough County’s House District 59, 5:30 p.m., Curry Law Group, 750 West Lumsden Road, Brandon. Wicker and Democrat Adam Hattersley are competing to replace Rep. Ross Spano, a Dover Republican running for Congress.

Worth reading — How the gutting of the Voting Rights Act led to hundreds of closed polls” via Rob Arthur and Allison McCann of Vice News — In-person voting declined in Manatee County as a result of 30 percent reduction in the number of polling places proposed by supervisor of elections, Mike Bennett. A six-month investigation examined polling place data to determine that for every 10 polling places that closed in the rest of the country, 13 closed within the jurisdictions formerly under oversight. About a third of all counties that used to be subject to the Voting Rights Act reduced their number of polling places on average 2.6 percent from 2012 to 2016, compared to only a fifth of the rest of the jurisdictions in the country that closed 2.0 percent. Rapidly growing states like Arizona and Georgia closed around 150 polling places each, while a few states, including Virginia and South Carolina, opened additional polling places. VICE News also found that many of the closed polls were in neighborhoods with large minority populations within 18 counties in 13 states.

— KNOCK, KNOCK —

Who’s there? The Win Justice coalition. And its strategy is no joke.

The group is touting more than a million doors knocked as part of a seven-figure statewide canvass operation. It hopes to surpass the 1.3-million mark by Nov. 6.

The coalition is supporting Democrats at the top of the ticket like Nelson and Gillum, as well as Amendment 4 — the felon restoration push — and a “progressive ticket down the ballot.”

Coincidence?: Ahead of Gillum’s primary upset, the group passed the 500,000-door threshold, sharing a progressive message at every residence.

Familiar faces: Win Justice is comprised of SEIU, Planned Parenthood, Color of Change and Center for Community Change Action. It’s also looped in New Florida Majority, Organize Florida and Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes.

Expanding the base: “Canvass operations have been running in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Orange, Osceola, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Alachua, Leon, and Duval since earlier this year,” according to Win Justice. In part, it hopes to “engage infrequent voters in millennial, Gen Z, Black, and Latinx communities.” The program has nearly 1,600 staff and paid canvassers across 22 offices.

— STATEWIDE —

State Senate now suing to stop federal harassment probe” via Florida Politics — A federal judge has set a hearing for next Tuesday in the state Senate’s lawsuit to put an end to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigation into a top aide’s sexual harassment and retaliation claims. Rachel Perrin Rogers, the chief assistant to Senate Republican Leader and future Senate President Wilton Simpson, says former Sen. Jack Latvala repeatedly groped her and made unwelcome comments about her body over a four-year period. The Senate’s legal complaint, filled earlier this month, counters that “the ongoing EEOC action violates the Florida Senate’s sovereign and constitutional rights,” including “violat(ing) the Senate’s sovereign immunity.” The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The Senate is first seeking a “temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction” to suspend that inquiry.

Insurance office postpones summit — Turns out that actually coping with the insurance side of a significant natural disaster trumps talking about it. “The Office of Insurance Regulation is postponing the 2018 OIR Summit to focus on the needs of those impacted by this disaster,” “Team OIR” said in a note circulated Tuesday. The reference, to belabor the point, was to Hurricane Michael. “Please stay tuned for additional details,” the note continued. “We appreciate your understanding as we continue to assist our neighbors in the Panhandle.” This year’s iteration of the annual summit was to have been held Oct. 24-25 in Tallahassee, featuring remarks by Sen. Jeff Brandes and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier, and providing staff to brief industry players on the fine art of negotiating the regulatory structure. The office has been holding daily data calls for insurers to report claims to regulators. Additionally, “OIR team members will be actively working throughout the recovery phase with consumer advocates, industry stakeholders and entities licensed under OIR’s regulatory authority,” the agency website says.

Workers’ comp rate hearing scrapped because of storm” via the News Service of Florida — Pointing to a need to stay focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the state Office of Insurance Regulation has canceled a public hearing on a proposed reduction in workers’ compensation insurance rates. The office will accept written comments until Oct. 26 about the proposed 13.4 percent average rate decrease, which would take effect in January. The National Council on Compensation Insurance, which proposes rates annually for workers’ compensation insurers, has said the proposal is in line with trends in other states.

University performance funding set for changes” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — Florida university leaders want to revise the system’s performance-funding model, looking to eliminate a dreaded “bottom three” that annually denies state money to the lowest-performing schools. In this academic year, Florida A&M University, the University of North Florida and New College of Florida missed out on shares of $265 million in state performance funding because they were ranked in the bottom three on a 100-point scale … even though two of them, Florida A&M and the University of North Florida, improved their performances on an evaluation in June, while New College maintained its performance level from the prior year. But that penalty would be eliminated under a plan discussed by the Budget and Finance Committee of the university system’s Board of Governors during a meeting in Tampa. The plan is a response to a new state law directing the university system to develop a “performance-based continuous improvement model focused on outcomes that provides for the equitable distribution of performance funds.”

Zika cases rise; baby born with Zika syndrome” via the News Service of Florida — The number of reported Zika cases in Florida this year has increased to 80, while a baby has been born with a condition known as congenital Zika syndrome, according to newly updated information from the state Department of Health. The 80 cases reported Tuesday were up from 74 reported on Oct. 1, as a gradual increase in cases of the mosquito-borne disease continues. Zika is particularly dangerous to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. The Department of Health said one baby has been born with the congenital Zika syndrome, which can involve brain damage and such conditions as microcephaly in which the skull has partially collapsed, according to a description on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

— OPINIONS —

Florida judge regrets sentencing man to die, says system is flawed” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Few things shore up a murder case like a confession. And in the case of a brutal double-murder in Seminole County, witnesses say a woman confessed to fatally stabbing the victims — the woman’s mother and grandmother — on five occasions. … Maybe it’s not shocking that a judge and jury convicted Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin years ago — before someone else confessed and before evidence surfaced linking the confessor to the crime scene. … today, I can tell you about someone else who has stepped forward to say the effort to convict Aguirre-Jarquin has been fatally flawed — the judge who originally sentenced him to die.

Joe Henderson: Supreme Court ruling brings out Mini-Me in Ron DeSantis via Florida Politics — DeSantis hasn’t mentioned President Trump much now that the general election for Florida Governor is getting closer, but that might change after Monday’s stinging slap by the Florida Supreme Court at Gov. Scott. …. the state’s highest court ruled that Scott cannot nominate replacements for three justices set to retire at midnight on Jan. 8, 2019 … When in doubt, break out the boogeyman … DeSantis put on his best Mini-Me imitation after the ruling by quickly tweeting Gillum would be pressured by “out-of-state, radical groups” to appoint “activist judges” who would “legislate from the bench to fit their own ideology.” … I assume he means that would be any ruling with which he disagrees. … That is, of course, opposed to the good ol’ American conservative judges DeSantis would favor. … It’s the same fear-and-smear tactic President Trump used to push the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh … Anyone who opposed him, the president declared, and his supporters parroted, was part of a “liberal mob.”

— MOVEMENTS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

George Oscar Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: Waymo

Brian Ballard, Christina Brodeur, Ballard Partners: AshBritt, Windstorm Mitigation

Rachel Cone, Chris Dudley, Mercer Fearington, Seth McKeel, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Nucor Corporation

Megan Fay, Chris Schoonover, Nick Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Hygea Holdings

Paul Mitchell, Southern Strategy Group: IOA Re

Sean Pittman, Pittman Law Group: Uber Technologies and Affiliates

— ALOE —

Uber proposals value company at $120 billion in possible IPO” via Liz Hoffman, Greg Bensinger and Maureen Farrell of The Wall Street Journal — That eye-popping figure is nearly double Uber’s valuation in a fundraising round just two months ago and more than General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are worth combined. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley last month delivered the valuation proposals to Uber. These documents, which typically advise on how to position shares to potential investors, are a common step before banks are formally hired to underwrite IPOs. Bank presentations show Uber gathering momentum toward an IPO that is among the most hotly anticipated on Wall Street and Silicon Valley and could come sooner than expected as the new-issue market sizzles.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi talking IPO plans and the app’s new safety features.

Disney World raises theme-park parking prices” via Dewayne Bevil — The parking fee at Walt Disney World’s four theme parks has increased as of Tuesday. The standard charge is now $25, up from $22. It’s the second hike in parking charges at the resort this year. Preferred parking — slots closer to the entrance of the attractions — was increased to $50, up from $45. The changes coincide with Disney’s increased prices for its annual passes and a new date-specific strategy for theme-park admission. The changes coincide with Disney’s increased prices for its annual passes and a new date-specific strategy for theme-park admission.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Kristin Jacobs, former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, Mark Hollis, former Rep. Scott Randolph, and Ray Seaman.

Last Call for 10.16.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

The Department of Management Services now has officially given the boot to Harris Corp. over the state’s law enforcement communications network.

DMS Secretary Erin Rock’s 19-page final order, first reported Oct. 8, was filed Tuesday morning. She accepted a recommendation by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in its totality.

The 30-day clock now can run in which Harris, if it decides to, can appeal the order to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions can plan to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS).

The deal, which likely will need legislative review and approval, is valued at over half a billion dollars.

The system is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state,” according to the DMS website.

Melbourne-based Harris had challenged the award to Motorola this March. It held the contract for the SLERS since September 2000.

Evening Reads

Marco Rubio: U.S. risks ‘credibility on human rights’ with weak response to Khashoggi disappearance” via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO

Hurricane Michael death toll rises to 21 in Florida” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald

After Michael’s fury, hardest-hit counties say changes in voting are needed” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott issues ultimatum to Verizon: Give me a plan to restore service, and treat customers fairly” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott won’t pick three state Supreme Court justices, but here’s why he wins anyway” via Jason Garcia of Florida Trend

New Florida GOP Spanish-language ads boost Ron DeSantis, bash ‘extreme left’ donors” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Everglades champion and foe of Big Sugar endorses DeSantis” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel

DeSantis rose by trafficking in racist, Islamophobic conspiracy theories” via Amanda Terkel of Huffington Post

The governor candidates aren’t mentioning it, but a woman’s right to choose is now a major campaign issue” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

Stephanie Murphy, Mike Miller draw distinctions on guns, abortion, climate change, economic plans” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Dana Young’s fundraising lead grows to $1.6 million over Janet Cruz” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Second complaint filed against Cruz” via David Bishop of Fla. News Online

Jeff Brandes is sitting on a gold mine compared to challenger, Lindsay Cross” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Linda Jack hits Amber Mariano for ‘failed representation’ in new ad” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Anna Eskamani denounces Lindsey Graham for Iranian ancestry remark” via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“If the Governor identifies an unmet need that requires swift legislative action, we will certainly work with him to address it.” — incoming Senate President Bill Galvano on Hurricane Michael recovery.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

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

Staff members for GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will hold “mobile” office hours in Marion and Miami-Dade counties: 10 a.m., Marion County Library, 2720 East Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala; noon, North Dade Regional Library, 2455 N.W. 183rd St., Miami Gardens.

Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Chris King joins health care professionals and local leaders for a news conference on running mate Andrew Gillum’s plan to expand access to affordable health care. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Barnett Park, 4801 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.

The state Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a hearing on a proposal that could lead to an average 13.4 percent reduction in workers’ compensation insurance rates next year. That’s at 1 p.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Development Finance Corp. Board of Directors will meet. That’s at 2 p.m., Florida Development Finance Corp., 156 Tuskawilla Road, Suite 2340, Winter Springs. Call-in number: 1-646-741-5292. Code: 1124184256.

A fundraising reception is scheduled for state Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican running in Senate District 23. Gruters and Democrat Olivia Babis are trying to succeed Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican running for Congress. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

Republican Joe Wicker will raise money for his campaign in Hillsborough County’s House District 59. Wicker and Democrat Adam Hattersley are competing to replace Rep. Ross Spano, a Dover Republican running for Congress. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Curry Law Group, 750 West Lumsden Road, Brandon.

Democratic candidates Catherine Price (SD 26), Allen Ellison (CD 17), and Audrey Asciutto (HD 55) will meet with rural voters. That’s at 6:30 p.m., Beef O’ Brady’s Restaurant, 608 S. Parrott Ave., Okeechobee.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.16.18

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

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

Months ago it seemed like Florida Democrats’ optimism of flipping the state Senate was justified. Democratic voters appeared calcified in the “blue no matter who” mindset while Republican voters seemed almost Laodicean after their 2016 Trump high faded.

Now, with three weeks to go before tallying votes, those hopes of ending the GOP’s decades-long stranglehold on the Florida Senate are dwindling. Fast.

A new poll of Senate District 8 shows Sen. Keith Perry with a 10-point lead over Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking, who is failing to gain traction among Democratic voters as a significant part of the base is being lulled away by no-party spoiler Charles Goston.

With a double-digit lead, Keith Perry is among the number of reasons Democratic hopes of flipping the Florida Senate are dwindling fast. (Image via Phil Sears)

It’s a similar story in SD 22, held by Sen. Kelli Stargel, and 24, held by Sen. Jeff Brandes. Despite Democrats’ constant declarations that each is a competitive seat, that didn’t pass the smell test among most politicos and polling has only confirmed that.

Polling confirms that If today were Nov. 6, Sen. Kelli Stargel would beat retired circuit court judge Bob Doyel by a baker’s dozen. She won re-election in 2016 by just seven percentage points against a weaker, underfunded challenger. Brandes, likewise, holds a double-digit lead over former Florida Wildlife Corridor director Lindsay Cross.

None of the results are particularly surprising for those not sporting rose-colored glasses. All three Senators won their 2016 campaigns by comfortable margins, and each district delivered a victory to Trump at the top of the ticket.

Though a flip now seems out of reach, and the chances of a tie are waning, there’s still hope of significant gains. Amanda Murphy is a legitimate threat to upset Ed Hooper in SD 16, and state Rep. Janet Cruz has an even-money chance of toppling Sen. Dana Young in SD 18, although Young’s ground-game could very well save her.

There’s also a glimmer of hope David Perez could spoil the ever-popular Manny Diaz in his bid to ascend in SD 36, though like other majority-Hispanic districts, there an equal chance that glimmer is fool’s gold from Trump’s resounding loss in the district.

What will the party split be in the state Senate next year? The answer very well could be 21-19, but short of a miracle, the GOP will still be on top.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Messina2012: Argue the substance all you want, but why 22 days before a crucial election where we MUST win house and senate to save America, why did @SenWarren have to do her announcement now? Why can’t Dems ever stay focused???

@Corbella: People have died and are suffering after one of the worst natural disasters in American history, and some of you’re out here arguing about DNA. Shameful.

@foswi: If Ann Scott is on the campaign trail does Scott World still pretend it is improper to ask about her investments?

@TroyKinsey: As the FL Supreme Court tells @FLGovScott no dice on replacing the three outgoing members of the court’s liberal wing, @LWVFlorida’s John Mills says @AndrewGillum will “appoint diverse, qualified judges who represent the breadth & depth of people in this state” if elected.

@Fineout: Statement from @RonDeSantisFL campaign says SCOFLA ruling makes election that more important and that “if Andrew Gillum is elected, out-of-state, radical groups would pressure him to appoint activist judges who would legislate from the bench to fit their own ideology.”

@Conarck: .@FL_Corrections announced an additional evacuation and updated numbers for others. Bay CF, a private prison in Panama City, evacuated nearly 1,000 inmates.

— LATEST TURNOUT NUMBERS —

— DAYS UNTIL —

MLB World Series begins — 7; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 8; Early voting begins — 11; Halloween — 15; General Election Day — 21; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 32; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 35; Thanksgiving — 37; Black Friday — 38; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 42; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 56; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 119; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 140; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 143; 2020 General Election — 749.

— TOP STORY — 

Supreme Court: Next Florida governor will pick new justices” via Gary Fineout and Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — Florida’s next governor and not incumbent Gov. Rick Scott will get to pick three new justices to the state Supreme Court, the court ruled Monday in a decision with major implications in this year’s gubernatorial campaign. In a major rebuke to Scott, the Supreme Court concluded that the Republican governor exceeded his authority when he started the process to find replacements for the three justices. Age limits of 70 are forcing three of the seven justices — Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince — to retire at midnight Jan. 8, the same day Scott is scheduled to leave the governor’s office. … The court’s one-page ruling Monday says “the governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies” triggered by those mandatory retirements.

— AFTER MICHAEL —

Donald Trump arrives in Panhandle: ‘Many of these people have no home’” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Air Force One landed at Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County at about 10:35 Central Standard Time. First Lady Melania Trump was with the president, and they were met by Gov. Scott, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who lives in nearby Walton County. “Many of these people have no home. Some of them have no trace of a home,” Trump told reporters on the airport tarmac. “Rick Scott has done an incredible job.” Trump cited the “thousands and thousands” of repair workers trying to restore power to storm-battered Panama City, Mexico Beach and surrounding areas.

Donald Trump makes a flyover as he tours the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach. (Image via Getty)

Trump plays consoler in chief in key swing state” via Nancy Cook and Christopher Cadelago of POLITICO Florida — An upbeat Trump toured a Florida neighborhood wrecked by Hurricane Michael, with downed trees, damaged roofs and a deserted school. The optics of late have been different than the images to emerge from past tours of disaster areas … The administration has sought to avoid such coverage by demonstrating — via frequent news conferences, through surrogates, and on social media — that the president and top officials are on top of things. Trump has come to more fully understand the significance to the people in the midst of a crisis, as well as how the fallout is viewed by TV audiences who may judge the totality of the response by a brief snippet of exposure. While touring Florida, Trump told onlookers that his administration is “doing more than has probably ever been done” when it came to this storm response. The stakes are incredibly high for Trump and Republicans to get the hurricane response right in the home stretch before the midterm elections.

Families worry about missing loved ones” via Russ Bynum and Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press — Joanne Garone Behnke has replayed every possible scenario in her mind a hundred times. Maybe her 79-year-old aunt sought shelter at the sturdy condo nearby that survived Hurricane Michael’s devastating winds. … The pile of rubble that was once her Mexico Beach home is shallow, too shallow for a body to go unnoticed. “It’s torture,” said Garone Behnke, who last talked to her Aunt Aggie Vicari right before the storm hit, begging her to leave. Five days after the hurricane slammed into the Florida Panhandle, how many residents might be missing seemed to be anyone’s guess … A Houston-based organization called CrowdSource Rescue that takes calls from worried family members and sends the details to rescue crews on the ground said it has helped find nearly 1,500 people across the region since Michael struck. But co-founder Matthew Marchetti said it was still looking for more than 1,350.

‘Trouble lasts’: Gretna church searches for solace after one of its own dies during storm” via Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tyrone Grant slowly rose from the chestnut pews of Dream, Vision and Destiny Ministry church Sunday morning. They were the same ones he sat in with his mother, Demashell Bass, his whole life. No more. His mom died during Hurricane Michael. She was 43. “Trouble lasts — tell me, how long will trouble last,” Tyrone sang, lamenting. “Tell me how long.” … He burst into tears. Fellow churchgoers joined in. “Trouble don’t last always,” they sang softly. … It was the first service held at the tight-knit church since Hurricane Michael’s fury unearthed trees and stole lives in their beloved Gadsden County town of fewer than 2,000 people. … [Bass] was one of four Gadsden County deaths reported so far by officials that occurred during the storm.

From atop bridges, those inside the destruction talk to the world” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Bridges span voids. Traditionally, the gaps are physical barriers, be it rivers, railroads or ravines. After Hurricane Michael, the bridges near Mexico Beach have become portals of sorts, the only place where communication is possible with the outside world. That’s because after the Category 4 storm wiped out power and cellular coverage across a wide swath of the Panhandle, the only whiff of a signal is atop those bridges. … “This is the closest connection to the rest of the world,” said Sheron Metts, sitting in her car atop the George G. Tapper Bridge just north of Port St. Joe on U.S. 98. … They came to the bridge Friday afternoon to broadcast to friends or family for the first time that they were safe. “Just trying to reach one or two that know others to get the word out there,” Metts said. Their social network would inform the rest.

‘Nothing was safe’: After Michael stole sand, blasted Alligator Point at crossroads” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — If you want to get a vehicle anywhere deep onto the point, you’re going to have to drive through a few front yards. After Hurricane Michael, what’s left of the beginning of Alligator Drive, the main drag leading out to the end of the peninsula, is reduced to rubble. … That has made it hard for residents and people with beach houses to return to assess damage — of which there is plenty. … Damages sustained on the eastern side of Alligator Point have left at least half the homes wrecked. … Windows facing the sea are shattered. Entire blown-out walls face the ocean breezes. It’s like they were never there. Docks that once trailed in from the sugary sand now stop short of leaning houses. Steps dangle from houses, their bases gone. The sand beneath them moved to another part of the coast. … In places, it’s hard to tell by the debris where one person’s life ends, and another’s begins.

Parts of Highway 319 on Alligator Point in Franklin County destroyed by Hurricane Michael. (Image via News-Press.com)

100 cats airlifted from shelters hit by Hurricane Michael” via The Associated Press — About 100 cats and kittens were airlifted out of Florida to Delaware on Monday, an effort to make room in shelters for animals displaced by Michael. … The Brandywine Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up with the Jacksonville Humane Society to relocate the cats to shelters in Delaware and suburban Philadelphia, and possibly elsewhere in the Northeast. … The cats, on a flight paid for by Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s foundation “Malik’s Gifts,” landed Monday afternoon at a private terminal in New Castle. … The idea is to make room in the Florida shelters so animals displaced by the hurricane can stay near their homes and hopefully be reunited with their families, said Brandywine Valley SPCA spokeswoman Linda Torelli. … “We learned back in Katrina not to take family pets out of the area,” she said, noting how hard it was to reunite animals with their owners once they were out of state.

Hurricane claims begin streaming into state insurance office” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — An “extremely preliminary” report from the Office of Insurance Regulation shows that roughly 38,000 Hurricane Michael-related claims have come into Florida carriers thus far, and that paid losses have reached $5.7 million. “These numbers are extremely preliminary and will continue to rise in the days and weeks to come,” office spokesman Jon Moore said via email. The office has ordered property insurers to submit claims data on a daily basis until further notice. “Through Hermine, Matthew and Irma, Florida’s industry has indicated an ability to respond to these types of events, and we expect the response to Hurricane Michael from the industry will be strong,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said in a prepared statement.

Rick Scott, Jimmy Patronis calling out Verizon for not restoring service after Hurricane Michael” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — During a news briefing, Scott mentioned Verizon’s problems twice, while touting the company’s chief competitor. “There in Bay County, we’re still waiting on Verizon,” Scott said, adding why it was important for cell service to be restored. “We’ve put a lot of food and water out all across the state,” Scott said. “Well, if you have no internet and you have no cellphone, it’s hard to get the information out. AT&T is working there, but Verizon is not.” Scott, continuing to dig at Verizon, has also been retweeting AT&T and praising the company on Twitter. Patronis, whose hometown is Bay County’s Panama City, also took aim at Verizon on Twitter, complete with the hashtag #fixitnow. Verizon in a statement said it’s suffered “unprecedented damage to our fiber, which is essential for our network.”

Port Panama City intends ‘limited service’ — The port’s director, Wayne Stubbs, on Monday released a statement that power had been restored over the weekend and he expected to offer “limited terminal service for general cargo by the end of this week.” Many of the port’s buildings were damaged, but none of the docks, cranes, or equipment. “The Panama City Port Authority has not yet been in contact with all of its employees, but most have been contacted and are safe,” he added. “Most employees have sustained some damage to their homes, and some have lost their homes. Panama City’s residents and businesses have suffered a catastrophic blow. The Port Authority is determined to do its part to demonstrate the resilience of the community and the affected area with a quick and full recovery.”

Port Panama City expects to reopen partially this week.

Health officials warn of silent killer after storm” via Florida Politics — With thousands of people still without power after Michael, the state’s Department of Health is warning of the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Generators “can cause CO to build up in a home and poison the people and animals inside,” a Monday news release said. “CO is found in fumes produced by burning fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, charcoal and wood,” it said. “Large amounts of CO can quickly overwhelm a person without warning, which leads to greater risk of illness or death especially with increased exposure time.”

St. Joe Community Foundation donating $1M to Michael relief” via Florida Politics — The St. Joe Community Foundation has not yet decided where the funds will be directed and said it would determine how to spend the money after assessing the needs of disaster relief and recovery efforts. “The St. Joe Community Foundation is honored to be able to contribute to the relief efforts from Hurricane Michael,” said Jorge Gonzalez, St. Joe Company’s president and the CEO of the St. Joe Community Foundation. “Northwest Florida is our home. The residents and businesses of this beautiful region are strong and resilient. They are family. This is a time when we need to step up and support our family in their time of need. Northwest Florida will come back strong and sound.”

Ken Detzner waiting to consider possible election changes” via the News Service of Florida — “The department is in regular communication with supervisors of elections in affected counties, and they are still in the process of assessing potential damage to early-voting and election-day voting sites as well as any other impacts that could affect voters in their area,” Detzner said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with supervisors and provide any needed assistance, as well as ensure updates are communicated to voters and the media once more information is available.” Detzner traveled to hard-hit Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties on Monday. “I saw firsthand the devastation Hurricane Michael brought to these areas, and my heart goes out to them,” Detzner said. The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last Tuesday. But Detzner granted a partial extension to counties where elections offices were closed that day because of Hurricane Michael, which hit Wednesday as a Category 4 storm.

Pinellas’ beaches apparently escape beach erosion from Hurricane Michael” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times — Pinellas County’s 35 miles of beaches appear to have emerged largely unscathed by Hurricane Michael, according to a preliminary assessment by county officials and University of South Florida experts. “The impact does not seem to be too bad,” said Ping Wang, a coastal geology professor from USF. “The water did not get very high.” According to Kelli Hammer Levy, the county’s environmental management director, the county has received reports of a possible “narrowing” of Pass-A-Grille and Indian Rocks Beach. “There does seem to be a loss toward the edge,” she said. But she added that the sand that washed away may not have gone far, explaining, “It may still be there, and it may come back.”

— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —

In Andrew Gillum’s absence, running mate Chris King brings healthcare attack on Ron DeSantis to Tampa” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — During a campaign stop in downtown Tampa, King blasted DeSantis for campaigning more than 250 days without explaining to voters his plans for health care: “Many Floridians think this is the most important issue in this election cycle. We are running against a major nominee from the other party that, 22 days from the election, does not have a plan.” Gillum has made health care a central part of his campaign with pledges to expand Medicaid to cover an extra 1 million Floridians and to strengthen the state’s insurance exchanges. By contrast, the “issues” page of DeSantis’ campaign website listed the economy, illegal immigration, education and judicial activism. It is silent on health care.

Chris King visits ‘Casa Gillum’ in West Tampa. (Image via Twitter)

Marco Rubio spreads ‘lie’ about Gillum’s hurricane record” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Rubio told a hometown crowd that Gillum mishandled the Hurricane Hermine response in 2016 — making him the latest Florida Republican to try discrediting the Democratic gubernatorial nominee by invoking the two-year-old storm: “When they had a hurricane up there, they didn’t have power for weeks because he stood in the way of crews being able to come in and restore power, because they weren’t members of the right union or something.” Rubio got two things clearly wrong in that sentence. First, Gillum lacked the authority to order the city’s electric utility director to hire work crews — and he didn’t try to — officials say. Secondly, Rubio’s claim about union workers was debunked two years ago, only to see it reemerge among conservatives on social media after Gillum won the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. In addition, Rubio’s claim that the city lacked power “for weeks” isn’t supported by post-hurricane power outage records disseminated by the state.

James Madison Institute hails DeSantis’ economic plans, says Gillum’s would cost Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The institute, grounded in conservative economics championed by Republicans such as Gov. Scott, concludes that Gillum’s proposals for a corporate tax increase, increased minimum wage, and increased teachers’ salaries “would adversely impact the business climate of the state,” costing 155,000 jobs and $28.2 billion in economic loses per year, the report’s executive summary states. “Candidate Ron DeSantis’ agenda – to largely maintain the pro-growth-oriented strategy of Florida through low and stable taxes, would preserve and strengthen the state’s business climate… [and] lead to the creation of 215,000 jobs annually and $26.6 billion in annual economic output,” the summary continues. DeSantis’ campaign quickly pounced on the report as vindication for the economic message he has been pushing, and as a repudiation of Gillum’s.

State high court decision reverberates in Governor’s campaign” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida —The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to allow the next governor to fill three vacancies on the state’s highest court next year — a rebuke to Gov. Scott and a potential win for Democrats if Gillum wins in November — has added new urgency to both party’s campaigns for the governor’s mansion. The state high court has thwarted several major policy proposals passed by the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature and signed by Scott in recent years, making it a bogeyman to Florida conservatives and a policy backstop for Democrats who are routinely bested in legislative fights. The court also ruled that Scott overstepped his bounds by ordering the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to give him a slate of potential nominees by Nov. 10. The JNC is an independent body not subject to timelines from the governor, the court said.

The trolling continues — The Florida Democratic Party is out with another hit on DeSantis. This time it’s a real-time clock tracking the number of days that have elapsed since the Republican gubernatorial candidate entered the race. From the Democrats’ perspective, it’s a matter of how long it’s taken for DeSantis to unveil his highly anticipated but prolonged health care plan. “Since launching his campaign in Boca Raton on January 29, DeSantis has refused to release a health care plan,” party spokesman Kevin Donohoe said. “DeSantis has repeatedly told reporters his campaign was on the verge of laying out a health care plan — only to cancel the rollout.” View the clock in real time here.

Assignment editors — DeSantis joins several Florida Sheriffs for two news conferences: he 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.

— ALL HANDS ON DECK 

The DeSantis campaign has added a plethora of high-power politicos for the closing weeks of the race for Florida governor, including reinforcements in campaign comms and political consulting.

Under the leadership of Susie Wiles, who helmed Trump’s Florida campaign two years ago, Team DeSantis has added numerous campaign veterans. Wiles started bringing on favored staffers shortly after taking the chair position on the Republican gubernatorial campaign, onboarding Jennifer Locetta to oversee operations and Tim Page to manage local and national surrogates.

Also among the new faces joining the Republican nominee’s campaign is Matt Parker, who will serve as Team DeSantis’ senior consultant for all things related to field operations. Lending their talents in consulting are veteran GOP operative Pat Bainter of Data Targeting Inc. and longtime GOP strategists David Johnson and Rich Heffley.

“These staffers are the best of the best and dropped everything to come join this team. They know what’s at stake in Florida and gladly offered their help to a few weeks ago,” Wiles said. “I am proud to have them on the DeSantis team, and Ron is grateful for their willingness to help.”

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Ann Scott takes over campaign duties as Scott focuses on storm recovery” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “Governor Scott will be focused on response and recovery from the devastating hurricane that hit the Panhandle for the foreseeable future,” Scott campaign adviser Chris Hartline said in a statement. “It’s unclear, at this point, whether he will hold any campaign events before the November 6 election, though it is still possible closer to Election Day.” The campaign also says it is setting up an “aggressive schedule of surrogate events.” Gov. Scott will also continue to get tons of airtime as he responds to the nationally-watched storm. That sort of attention which helped him in the past and was on full display when President Trump traveled to Eglin Air Force Base to look at storm damage. He said Scott is a “great governor” and that “Florida has been incredible.”

In her husband’s absence, Ann Scott will take the lead on the campaign trail.

Parkland parent endorses Scott in new advia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Scott, Florida’s outgoing Republican Governor, is out with a new ad in the race for U.S. Senate, highlighting the endorsement of Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter in February’s shooting in Parkland. Scott is attempting to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. In the new minute-long ad, titled “Meadow,” Pollack speaks of the loss of his daughter during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I get my strength when I think of my daughter and how much she means to me,” Pollack begins.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Scott puts another $18 million of personal money into Senate bid” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Overall, Scott has put nearly $40 million of his own money into the race, a fight with big implications for control of the Senate after the 2018 midterms. During the last reporting period, Scott raised $23.5 million, boosting the total he has brought in — including personal cash — to nearly $54 million. Scott has spent most of that and is now sitting on $2 million cash on hand. Nelson has far fewer resources but is leading by 2.4 percentage points in the RealClear Politics average of polls. Nelson has had marginal leads in the last three polls included in the average.

Outside money now at $42 million in U.S. Senate race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Outside groups have spent almost $17 million just in the past two weeks on advertising and other campaigning in the battle between Democrat Bill Nelson and his opponent Republican Scott. That spending ramped up from an already impressive $25 million that outside groups previously had spent in 2018, fueling waves of television commercials, stacks of campaign mailers, and other campaign support, according to the latest U.S. Senate independent expenditure reports. Nelson continues to be the biggest beneficiary of outside money, as more than $10.3 million was spent in the past two weeks either supporting him or attacking Scott, while $6.6 million was spent supporting Scott or attacking Nelson. The total in outside spending so far: $25.6 million spent to support Nelson or oppose Scott; $17 million to support Scott or oppose Nelson.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

First in Sunburn — Former Vice President Joe Biden endorses Sean Shaw — Calling Shaw a “fighter with a proven track record of standing up for the little guy,” Biden, who served two terms under former President Barack Obama, is throwing his political weight behind Florida’s Democratic option for Attorney General. “Sean Shaw will be the kind of Attorney General that the state of Florida desperately needs,” Biden said. Shaw responded, likening himself to the former Veep. “Much like Vice President Biden did during his time in the White House, I plan to give issues surrounding common-sense gun reform and tackling sexual assault, the focus, and attention that they deserve,” Shaw said. “The grace with which Vice President Biden has carried himself, through both triumph and tragedy, is a lesson in the resilience of the human spirit.” 

Former VP Joe Biden is throwing his weight behind Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw.

Matt Caldwell adds $277K, Nikki Fried $218K in Ag. Commish race” via Florida Politics — Nearly $97,000 of the fresh receipts reported by Caldwell were deposited in his campaign account, with another $180,000 heading to his soft money account, Friends of Matt Caldwell. The committee’s rake was buoyed by a $100,000 check from Florida Jobs PAC, a political committee tied to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber-affiliated committee chipped $100,000 into Caldwell’s prior finance report and had given nearly $300,000 thus far. Fried announced her early October reports showed about $45,000 in hard money fundraising and another $173,000 in contributions for her political committee, Florida Consumers First. That tally brings her overall fundraising to the precipice of the $900,000 mark. She had a combined $453,000 in the bank on Oct. 5.

Gambling measure backers spend nearly $8.5 million” via the News Service of Florida — Voters In Charge had spent an overall total of $30.567 million as of Oct. 5 as it tries to pass a constitutional amendment that has been funded by Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Of the latest spending, $8 million went to the Virginia-based firm National Media Research, Planning & Placement for advertising expenses, according to the finance report posted on the Florida Division of Elections website. Another $346,582 went to Cornerstone Solutions of Florida, LLC for direct mail and postage. The proposal, which appears on the November ballot as Amendment 3, would change the Florida Constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.

Voters in Charge staffs up in Palm Beach — The political committee sponsoring the “Yes on 3” campaign, continued announcing committee staff. Palm Beach County Chairs: Mayor Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach; former state Rep. Mary BrandenburgJulio Fuentes, president/CEO of the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and Rachelle Lipman, president of the Kings Point Democratic Club. Palm Beach County committee members: former West Palm Beach Commissioner Sylvia MoffettMindy Koch, president of the Boca/Delray Democratic Club; former West Palm Beach Commissioner and local business owner David Smith; former Jupiter Councilman Ben KlugJose Garcia, president of Latinos in Action; Bill Newgent, City Voice podcast host; Dana Aberman, president of SEE South Florida; Alexandria Ayala, vice president of the PBC Young Democrats; political science professor Craig Agranoff; high school math teacher Daniella Suarez; and community activist Paula Morra.

$5M ad buy to push rights restorationvia Florida Politics — With vote-by-mail underway and early in-person voting just a week away, the Second Chances campaign announced a $5 million broadcast ad buy Monday. The pro-Amendment 4 group’s television and radio spots will include personal stories from reformed felons who are still denied spent, and from experts in favor of restoring civil rights for those who have done their time. Of the nearly $5 million, over $500,000 will go to a Spanish language TV buy, and $700,000 will go to what the media release calls “radio stations serving minority communities.” The spots will be live in every media market in the state, and the hope is that they help continue the momentum established in recent polling that shows Amendment 4 on track to pass with 71 percent support.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Amendment 4 group collects another $2.6 million” via the News Service of Florida — Bringing the total raised for the initiative to nearly $17.63 million … The contributions went to the political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which is trying to pass Amendment 4 on the November ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment would automatically restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution. Floridians for a Fair Democracy had about $5.275 million in cash on hand as of Oct. 5, according to the finance report posted on the state Division of Elections website. Contributions during the weeklong period included $1 million from Fort Worth, Texas, psychologist Laurie Michaels and $800,000 from the League of Conservation Voters.

Southern Poverty Law Center sinking $1.3M into Florida get-out-the-vote — “This is one of the most important elections in our lifetime, and the SPLC wants to ensure that Floridians are engaged on the issues that will impact our state’s future for generations to come,” said Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the SPLC. “Whether it’s providing a second chance to people with past felony convictions or helping Floridians understand a proposed radical limitation on how the state legislature can amend the state’s tax code, the SPLC believes that voters should feel informed and empowered when they cast their ballot.” Through a nonpartisan public education campaign, the SPLC will use direct mail, radio, television and digital advertising to inform and motivate voters. The campaign is in addition to SPLC’s work in coalition with Floridians for a Fair Democracy on Amendment 4 and the League of Women Voters on Amendment 5.

Kelsey Grammer pushes for passage of Amendment 6 in new advia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Emmy Award-winning actor Kelsey Grammer is starring in a new spot advocating for passage of Amendment 6, which supporters say would grant increased rights to victims of crime. Grammer himself has felt the effects of violent crime on numerous occasions throughout his life. He uses the 30-second ad, which was launched by Marsy’s Law for Florida, to talk about those tragedies. “My dad was gunned down at his home at the age of 38,” Grammer begins. “Six years later, my sister Karen was brutally raped and murdered. She was 18. When my father’s killer was released, I found out through the National Enquirer. It seemed like a cruel joke.”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Happening today— Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and her Republican challenger, state Rep. Mike Miller, will debate at the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, noon, Varsity Club at Camping World Stadium, 1 Citrus Bowl Place, Orlando. Murphy and Miller are competing for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Charlie Crist releases new TV ad — The latest spot, “This is Charlie,” will run in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market. The 30-second ad highlights the St. Petersburg Democrat’s commitment to serving Pinellas County, fighting for the people. “It is truly an honor to serve my neighbors in Pinellas County, representing the community that raised me and working every day on behalf of the people,” said Crist, who is seeking another term in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “I will never stop fighting for my constituents — my bosses — always putting Florida first.”

To view “This is Charlie,” click on the image below:

DCCC cancels ad buy in CD 16, all but writing off David Shapiro” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just canceled extensive TV ad buys in the Sarasota market, seemingly abandoning Shapiro’s effort to unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. “The DCCC decision to pull the plug on financial aid for David Shapiro confirms what independent polls have shown over the past two weeks—Vern Buchanan is going to win re-election,” said Max Goodman, Buchanan’s campaign manager. The news comes the same day Shapiro told the Herald-Tribune that he’s enjoyed a successful fundraising quarter raking in $873,883 while chipping in $150,000 of his own coin. That means he added more than $1 million to his account in a time Buchanan says he raised $500,000.

Happening tonight:

Dana Young Fundraiser 10.16.2018

— STATEWIDE —

AIDS foundation, Governor’s office argue over records” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The Scott administration does not dispute that information the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is requesting is a public record. Instead, the administration argued to a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal about the timing of the release of the information. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in July requested the Governor’s travel schedule, including his overnight accommodations, for three months in advance. The foundation requested the information after the Scott administration made contracting decisions that locked a foundation health plan, Positive Healthcare, out of the state’s Medicaid program for the next five years. In legal briefs filed with the 1st District Court of Appeal, Tallahassee attorney Barry Richard, representing the Scott administration, argued that while the schedule isn’t exempt from the public-records law, there is a law that exempts from review “any information revealing surveillance techniques or procedures or personnel. “

Hurricane failed to end Gulf coast’s red tide” via Jennifer Kay of the Orlando Sentinel — Hurricane Michael failed to break up a patchy and toxic algae bloom that has lingered in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s shoreline for the last year, experts said Monday, meaning the red tide outbreak could continue to cause problems in the weeks ahead. Hurricanes can break up algae blooms, but they also drop freshwater and increase nutrient-rich runoff from land, which can make them worse, said Robert Weisberg, a professor of physical oceanography at the University of South Florida. … “The factors that contributed to red tide outweighed the ones that would reduce it,” Weisberg said. … After Michael, the algae was found in high concentrations off some Tampa Bay-area beaches, along with dead fish. … NOAA researchers have called this red tide “unusually persistent.”

Hurricane Michael may not have broken up the red tide plaguing Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Red tide reportedly hits Indian River County, Fort Pierce Inlet for first time” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Test results to confirm the algae’s presence in Indian River County were expected from water samples taken by the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Vero Beach City Manager James O’Connor said. Vero Beach and Indian River County beaches weren’t closed Monday but were flying red flags to warn beachgoers of the possible danger of toxic algae, O’Connor said. “We’re not going to close beaches until we get verification that it’s red tide,” he said. Dead fish were reported along Indian River County beaches Monday, and numerous people reported scratchy throats, watery eyes and runny noses — typical symptoms from breathing in toxins from red tide cells in the air.

Uncertainty abounds as stone crab season begins” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Crabbers around the state started putting out traps on Oct. 5, and Monday marks the first day they can be pulled and crab claws harvested. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the edible parts of stone crabs are not affected by red tide and are safe to eat. Crabbers in north Florida … have not been seeing much. Around the Panhandle, many fishermen and crabbers are still coming to terms with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael … semi-trucks full of ice were heading north from Cortez Friday evening to take the ice to a wholesaler they work with there, Barber’s Seafood in East Point, which is east of Apalachicola … crabbers are hopeful that the passing of Hurricane Michael stirred up the water just enough to make it murky and easier for stone crabs to come out of hiding.

— OPINIONS —

Gus Bilirakis mimics Donald Trump, colleagues in misleading voters” via Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and Trump. The reality is Bilirakis is no different at all. Facing his strongest challenger since he was first elected a dozen years ago, Bilirakis takes credit in a new campaign ad for a law he had no role in writing … The facts show Bilirakis is misleading voters about his record in his latest campaign advertisement in a desperate attempt to shore up his vulnerability on the opioid crisis. The reality is that facing his toughest campaign challenge, Bilirakis resorts to the same deceptions and diatribes used by his colleagues in Congress and by the president. It’s beneath him, and it’s time for voters to make a change.

Joe Henderson: If Florida CD 15 flips, blue wave could be coming” via Florida Politics — If you see Florida CD 15 starting to turn in favor of Democrat Kristen Carlson as election results pour in, better get out your rain gear because the blue wave could be coming. Carlson is the underdog against Republican Ross Spano, but three major national outlets — FiveThirtyEight.com, the Sabato Crystal Ball, and the Cook Political Report — continue to agree that the race is close. They all have it leaning Spano’s way, but not convincingly. This, mind you, has been as safely Republican as most any you could find. So, what changed? A lot of things, starting with Lakeland — Polk’s largest city. Democrats have targeted this as a seat they believe they can flip as part of an overall strategy to regain control of the U.S. House, and Carlson is running hard. Her TV ads are beginning to show up with increasing frequency. Will it be enough? That’s hard to say.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Florida Lottery veteran Connie Barnes retiring — Barnes, the agency’s Communications Director, said she would retire Tuesday from the Lottery. She’s been there for about 10 years, according to her LinkedIn page. She will remain in Tallahassee with her also-retired husband, Charlie Barnes, the longtime executive director of the Seminole Boosters. Connie Barnes also has been a senior governmental affairs analyst and communications manager for the Agency for Health Care Administration, and Vice President of Marketing & Sales for the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. The position will stay open; Taylor Nash will remain the Lottery’s Deputy Communications Director.

— ALOE —

Disney Springs restaurant throwing ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ celebration” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — For fans of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” a Disney Springs restaurant is throwing a themed celebration on Halloween. Tickets are $85 to attend the Oct. 31 event at The Edison in Disney Springs. The cost includes a complimentary cocktail at the adult-only event that begins at 7:30 p.m. The movie tribute includes a costume contest, live music, flying aerialists and costumed stilt-walkers, according to a news release that said the party was not affiliated with Disney.

The Edison at Disney Springs is hosting a ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ themed Halloween bash.

Legoland Florida reveals trio of new rides in the works” via Richard Bilbao of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The new land, which will bring the Lego World from the popular The Lego Movie franchise to life, is set to have three main attractions: The Lego Movie Masters of Flight, Unikitty’s Disco Drop and Battle of Bricksburg. The new land debuts next spring and will take over the former World of Chima land, which opened in 2013. The Lego Movie World Land also will include themed areas such as downtown Bricksburg with character meet-n-greets, dining at the Taco Tuesday Everyday eatery and a visit to The Awesome Shop retail store. Playgrounds themed after the Lego world also will be there for fans.

Happy birthday belatedly to one of our favorites, Edie Ousley of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Celebrating today is my wonderful mother-in-law, Robin Todd, as well as Rep. Loranne Ausley Beth Switzer, and Carrie Patrick.

Last Call for 10.15.18 – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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.

To file a DUA claim go to www.FloridaJobs.org or call (800) 385-3920.

Evening Reads

Donald Trump gets bird’s-eye view of devastated Florida communities” via Deb Reichmann of The Associated Press

Outside money now at $42 million in Florida’s U.S. Senate race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Ann Scott takes over campaign duties as Rick Scott focuses on storm recovery” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Parkland parent endorses Scott in new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

State high court decision reverberates in Governor’s campaign” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Tallahassee restored power to 90% of customers last night. That could be good for Andrew Gillum.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

What is and isn’t known about Ron DeSantis’s Navy career? Records provide a glimpse” via Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix

Matt Caldwell adds $277K, Nikki Fried $218K in Ag. Commish race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Dana Young bets on personal touch to keep swing seat” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Kelsey Grammer is the latest face of the campaign to pass a victims rights constitutional amendment” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun Sentinel

Disney-backed gambling opponents unleash $8.5 million ad blitz in just 1 week” via Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel

Deceptive Democrats’ ‘nonpartisan’ ‘Parties at the Polls’” via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News

Hurricane Michael claims begin streaming in to state insurance office” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

Experts: Hurricane Michael failed to end Florida’s red tide” via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press

With tuition and debt rising, vocational education must be a higher priority in Florida” via Adam Wollner of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“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

Breakthrough Insights

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.

— 1 p.m., Clearwater Countryside Library, 2642 Sabal Springs Dr., Clearwater.

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 Beth Matuga and Robert Weissert 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.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.15.18

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

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

Good 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.

It may not be on the ballot, but Michael will certainly be in the race.

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.”

Andrew Gillum, busy cleaning up debris left from Michael, helps with downed trees in Tallahassee.

— 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.”

‘It’s all gone’: Mexico Beach nearly swept away by Hurricane Michael. (Image via Washington Post)

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.

Donald Trump meets with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long in the Oval Office for a briefing on Hurricane Michael.

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.

Tyndall Air Force Base sustains ‘catastrophic’ damage from Michael.

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.”

FSU’s football facilities suffered minor damage from Hurricane Michael. (Image via Tallahassee.com)

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.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

 

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.”

>>>You can do better than this, Brian —“Gillum caught using hurricane as campaign prop after promising to ‘suspend’ campaign during storm” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

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.

Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin cuts Ron DeSantis a big check.

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.”

Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray visit a Democratic office in West Palm Beach to campaign for Andrew Gillum. (Image via Palm Beach Post)

—“DeSantis, Gillum working overtime to court Jewish voters” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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?”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— OVER TROUBLED WATERS —

Florida’s U.S. Senate showdown is slimy.

The red and blue-green algae outbreaks could compel Floridians to the polls on Election Day, POLITICO Magazine’s Michael Grunwald writes, 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 9/11via 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.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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 electionvia 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.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

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.

Happening Tuesday:

Dana Young Fundraiser 10.16.2018

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: Jeff Soffer running Miami Beach’s largest resort, the Fontainebleau, an oceanfront hotel with its own casino ambitions; and Jackie Soffer 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.

Florida Education Association elected new leadership, starting with president Fedrick C. Ingram.

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 Pamela Goodman 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.

As many as seven hotels are planned at Disney’s new Flamingo Crossing development.

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.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith accepts an onstage engagement proposal Saturday from longtime partner Jerick Mediavilla at Orlando Come Out With Pride.

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.

Where are Ron DeSantis’ better angels?

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.

Gwen Graham offers assistance to an evacuee from Hurricane Michael on October 10, 2018. Photo credit: Facebook.

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. Gancarski that 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 — 10.11.18

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.

A storm chaser climbs into his vehicle during the eye of Hurricane Michael to retrieve equipment after a hotel canopy collapsed in Panama City Beach. (Image via AP)

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.

Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, with huge piles of debris and homes fully submerged under water. (Image via USA TODAY)

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.

— “Tallahassee airport reopens for relief supplies” via the Tallahassee Democrat

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.

Donald Trump: 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. Rick Scott 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.

To view the video, click on the image below:

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 RodRosenstein 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”

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.”

Complete destruction to the northeastern side of a bank in Panama City. (Image via Twitter/@StormVisuals)

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 Allender tweeted 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.

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.

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

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. 

Happening tonight:

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.

Happening tonight:

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.

An artist’s rendering of the new Disney Springs City Works Eatery & Pour House, a take on “classic American food.”

Happy birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan.

Last Call for 10.10.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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.

Evening Reads

A supercharged Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida Panhandle” via Jay Reeves and Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press

Donald Trump: Hurricane Michael grew ‘into a monster’” via Rebecca Morin with Matthew Choi of POLITICO

How Hurricane Michael got so strong, so quickly” via Andrew Freedman of Axios

He wrote his name on his arm before Hurricane Michael in case they can’t identify his body” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald

Tallahassee: ‘A city that loves trees’ will be tested by Hurricane Michael, barrage of wind” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat

Weather Channel crew tries to flee as Hurricane Michael nears” via Andrew Freedman of Axios

Breaking taboo, negative ads fly during Florida hurricane” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Craig Fugate rebukes political attacks after Ron DeSantis runs Andrew Gillum during monster storm” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Storm offers exposure, wish to Democrat in Governor’s race” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press

No ‘rah-rah campaign rally’ for DeSantis in Jacksonville” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gillum wants to pay starting teachers $50,000. Could that ever happen in Florida?” via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

As Senate race wears on, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott are getting more and more unpopular” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

More than dozen Republicans interested in filling Dorothy Hukill’s place on the Senate ballot” via Dave Berman of Florida Today

Second lawsuit filed seeking to extend voter registration” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

New mobile app for reporting “suspicious activity” raises more questions than answers for schools and families” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix

Did Pensacola mayoral hopeful Grover Robinson entice an endorsement with job offer?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“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

Breakthrough Insights  

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 Mitch Landrieu 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. Vern Buchanan 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 — 10.10.18

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.

Florida’s Gulf Coast prepares for Hurricane Michael. (Image via The Washington Post)

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.

Rick Scott gives an update on Hurricane Michael from the State Emergency Operations Center Tuesday morning.

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 Kevin Peters 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.”

FHP troopers from Orlando preparing Tuesday to head to the Panhandle to help residents in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

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.

Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul slams the Panhandle for a slack in preparation. 

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.

Stay away, Jim Cantore.

— 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.

While Mayors are mostly a figurehead during weather events, Andrew Gillum’s role in Hurricane Michael is to give updates, talk preparation.

’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 Marsha Laufer, of Manalapan, who chipped in $500,000, and the Barbara Stiefel 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.”

Without any official role in Hurricane Michael response. Ron DeSantis campaigns by pitching in.

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.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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.”

Tom Steyer is touting 50K new young Florida voters registered.

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 Party filed 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.

Nancy Soderberg is basically tied with her Republican rival, Mike Waltz.

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.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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 CouncilmanEllison 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!”

To watch the video, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

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 ParienteR. 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.

A federal judge has ordered that the city of Pensacola must remove the Bayview Park Cross.

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.

The #HimToo tweet that started it all.

— 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.”

Reah Law, shown with former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney CEO Jack Barbour, is seeking new challenges.

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.

Where are you going to be for New Year’s Eve?

Happy birthday to Dave Mica and Jared Ross.

Last Call for 10.9.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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 Andrew Gillum, 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 (Rick Scott). 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.”)

Evening Reads

Nikki Haley to resign as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations” via Rebecca Ballhaus and Farnaz Fassihi of The Wall Street Journal

Hurricane set to collide with top Florida races” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

What’s too tacky amid a hurricane threat? Fundraising? Donald Trump attacking Andrew Gillum?” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

As Hurricane Michael bears down on Tallahassee, eyes are on Gillum” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats sue to further extend voter registration in counties affected by Hurricane Michael” via Mark Skoneki and Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

In email, Florida emergency management chief slams local storm prep” via Matt Dixon and Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

Florida’s congressional delegation seeks state of emergency” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

Third debate set between Ron DeSantis and Gillum” via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

DeSantis campaign brings in operative Tim Baker for final stretch” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Family tradition drives Ashley Moody in Attorney General’s race” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times

Michael Bloomberg group to spend $2 million on these Florida Democrats” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

Seminole commission candidate barred from substitute teaching for ‘nefarious’ classroom conduct” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“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

Breakthrough Insights

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.

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