Peter Archives - Florida Politics

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Old he-coon reunion

December 12 will mark twenty years since the passing of Florida’s former Democratic U.S. Senator and Governor Lawton Chiles.

Yet, still to this day, the mark left on Sunshine State politics is very visible.

Most Democrats will tell you he’s the best governor in modern Florida history. And Republicans aren’t quick to dispute.

Then-state Sen. Lawton Mainor Chiles, Jr. walks along a Florida highway. Remembered by Democrats as the best Governor in Florida history, Chiles died twenty years ago Dec. 12.

Supporters, staffers, successors and opponents are celebrating Chiles’ legacy this weekend at the Chiles Jubilee — the first-ever reunion of his close friends, family and colleagues.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is delivering welcome remarks this morning at the Epicurean Hotel in Tampa. Former Florida U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham is the featured keynote luncheon speaker.

A series of other events are scheduled, including a panel discussion on the state’s crusade against Big Tobacco, featuring former Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Those in attendance will have a chance to share their favorite memory of Chiles following an evening reception.

Chiles is known notably for his unique campaign strategies and his flashy, southern command of language.

To boost his name recognition during his 1970 bid for the Senate, Chiles embarked on a 1,003-mile, 91-day walk across Florida from Pensacola to Key West.

During a 1994 debate with former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who will deliver remarks at today’s reunion via video, Chiles — in response to being branded an “old liberal” — notably quipped: “The old he-coon walks just before the light of day.”

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

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

Take 5

Recount confirms DeSantis victory — With little change in overall margins following Florida’s state-ordered machine recount, Republican Ron DeSantis again declared victory in Florida’s race for Governor. The win was just 0.4 percent, a spread of 33,652 votes. DeSantis described the results as “clear and unambiguous” in a statement following the recount. DeSantis invited his opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, to a summit to discuss bipartisan observations made on the campaign trail. “We have both traveled the state and met Floridians from all walks of life,” DeSantis said. “Sharing these experiences will, I believe, help us unite our state and build toward unity on behalf of the people of Florida.”

Agriculture Commissioner race in limbo — Following the completion of the machine recount of the Agriculture Commissioner race on Thursday, Democrat Nikki Fried led Republican Matt Caldwell by 5,307 votes, a slightly narrower lead than the 5,326-vote gap reported in the initial tabulation of the race. A manual recount of the race is underway. It’s the only race for Cabinet that will require further consideration. Republican Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County Circuit Court judge, will replace term-limited Pam Bondi in January. Moody defeated her Democratic opponent, Sean Shaw, by six points. Republican Jimmy Patronis will continue to serve as the state’s Chief Financial Officer. He was appointed to the post last year when former CFO Jeff Atwater resigned to take a job as CFO of Florida Atlantic University. Patronis defeated his Democratic opponent Jeremy Ring by three points.

Judge reschedules Senate discrimination hearing — U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle has rescheduled oral arguments for Nov. 30 in a case filed by the Florida Senate after allegations by a legislative aide that she was a victim of sexual harassment and retaliation. The arguments had originally been scheduled for Nov. 8 but were canceled, reports the News Service of Florida. The Senate is seeking to halt the EEOC investigation. Earlier this month, lawyers for the Senate wrote “the ongoing EEOC action violates the Florida Senate’s sovereign and constitutional rights,” including “violat(ing) the Senate’s sovereign immunity.” Rachel Perrin Rogers, a chief assistant to Senate Republican Leader and future Senate President Wilton Simpson, filed the complaint with the EEOC alleging in part that she faced retaliation for sexual harassment claims.

Incoming Speaker names top aide Carol Gormley, a health care policy expert and veteran legislative staffer, incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva. Gormley has worked as a legislative staffer for former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Before being elected to the Senate, Rubio had served a stint as Speaker of the Florida House. In 2012, Gormley worked in the state Senate as a senior policy adviser to then-Senate President Don Gaetz. More recently, she was a senior policy staffer to immediate past House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Senate starts filling out leadership — State Senate President-elect Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, on Wednesday announced his selection of Sen. David Simmons as Senate President Pro Tempore, the upper chamber’s second-in-command post. Simmons, a Longwood Republican, is a longtime state lawmaker, having served an eight-year stint in the state House before being elected to the Senate in 2010. “We have all seen David’s unmatched work ethic and tireless determination to fiercely advocate for the issues and causes he supports,” said Galvano. The Senate is expected to approve Simmons’ appointment on Tuesday, when the chamber meets for Organizational Session. Incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva announced his leadership team last week, along with committee assignments.

Putnam criticizes new trade proposal

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is criticizing some of the new trade terms proposed between the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

The term-limited Republican Cabinet member delivered remarks to members of the U.S. International Trade Commission on the USMCA this week, declaring it “anything but a fair and level playing field for Florida’s producers.”

Adam Putnam criticizes the USMCA, President Donald Trump’s replacement to NAFTA.

The USMCA is expected to serve as President Donald Trump’s replacement to NAFTA.

Putnam told commissioners that specialty agricultural products are “unfairly subsidized and are pouring into the U.S. market in high volumes at prices significantly below the cost of production, resulting in negative repercussions on U.S. producers and causing disproportionate economic injury to Florida’s specialty crop industry.”

He added: “Our department, Florida’s Congressional delegation and industry groups have fought hard to protect our specialty crop industry since the inception of NAFTA, and we will continue to do so as this new agreement moves forward.”

DEO highlights apprenticeships

Both job seekers and employers stand to reap enormous benefits from apprenticeships, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Apprenticeships help Florida’s employers recruit and keep the talent they need to remain competitive,” DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor said this week in news release noting National Apprenticeship Week.

Apprenticeships keep Florida employers in the game, says, DEO Executive Director Cissy Proctor.

Getting an early jump on skills training helps novice job seekers gain hands-on experience in prospective fields. It can also help with finances, as apprenticeships are typically accompanied by wages and can reduce or replace student debt.

The DEO in partnership with the Department of Education and CareerSource Florida recently secured the national Apprenticeship USA grant to help build out early skills-based training programs in the Sunshine State.

“We are proud that Florida’s public education system offers students of all ages and backgrounds pathways to reach their academic and career goals,” said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Instagram of the Week


The week in appointments

Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group

Alyssa Beck, 23, of Jacksonville, is an advocacy specialist with the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center.

Kevin Higgins II, of Riviera Beach, is a former security specialist with PSC Security Services.

Both are appointed for terms that end at the pleasure of the Governor.

Children’s Trust Governing Board of Miami-Dade County

Marissa Leichter, 41, of North Bay Village, is a program manager with the Florida Foster Care Review. Her term is through March 17, 2020.

Tiombe Bisa Dunn, 44, of Miami, is a psychologist with the School Board of Miami-Dade County. She is reappointed for a term through March 17, 2022.

Sanford Bohrer, 70, of Pinecrest, is a partner with Holland and Knight, LLP. He succeeds Miguel Balsera and is appointed for a term through March 17, 2019.

Nicole Gomez, 34, of Miami Beach, is an associate with LSN Partners, LLC. She is appointed for a term through March 17, 2021.

Richard Dunn Jr., 57, of Miami, is a senior pastor with the Faith Community Baptist Church. He succeeds Maria Alonso and is appointed for a term through March 17, 2019.

Lourdes Gimenez, 63, of Miami, is a former administrative director with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. She succeeds Lileana De Moya and is appointed for a term through March 17, 2022.

Constance Collins, 60, of Surfside, is the President and Founder of Lotus House Women’s Shelter. She is appointed for a term through March 17, 2021.


OIR’s Murphy wins top honor

One of the insurance field’s highest honors has gone to Susanne Murphy, deputy commissioner for property and casualty in the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

That’s the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Robert Dineen Award for outstanding service and contributions to the state regulation of insurance. She shared the honor with Mel Anderson, a deputy commissioner in Arkansas.

NAIC President Julie Mix McPeak, Deputy Commissioner Susanne Murphy, Commissioner David Altmaier.

Murphy was cited for her advocacy for expansion of the private flood insurance market in Florida and elsewhere, and for helping to lead the state’s recovery from the hurricanes that have hit in recent years. She’s also known as an authority on insurer solvency.

“I cannot be more proud of Susanne and her recent recognition as being acknowledged at the national level for such a prestigious award is quite an achievement.,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said. “Susanne Murphy is a prominent player in our nation’s insurance arena, and we are extremely fortunate to have her expertise here in the Sunshine State.”

Irma claims still stack up

Insurance claims arising from Hurricane Irma have surpassed the 1 million threshold, and they’re worth more than $11 billion.

The actual numbers as of Wednesday were 1,002,821 claims, valued at $11,082,199,367. Some 92.4 percent had been resolved.

By far, the largest number of claims came from Miami-Dade County, at 128,661, followed by Collier at 95,273, Broward at 84,042, and Lee at 84,032.

Hurricane Irma is still giving Florida headaches one year later.

The Office of Insurance Regulation had no records identifying the origins of 11,049 claims. The storm made landfall on Sept. 10, 2017, and proceeded to ravage the length of Peninsular Florida. Homeowners have three years to file claims.

“Following Hurricane Irma, and the recent landfall of Michael, we have continued urging residents to contact their insurance company as soon as possible,” Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said. “This is done to limit AOB abuse, the occurrence of additional non-covered damage from interfering and prolonging the claims process, and expediting consumers’ path back to normalcy.

As always, consumers who have insurance-related questions or concerns are urged to contact CFO Jimmy Patronis’ Insurance Consumer Helpline by calling 1-877-MY-FL-CFO.

State regulators provide for hurricane victims

Helping hands have come from across the state and country to the aid of those affected by Hurricane Michael.

This week, even the state Office of Financial Regulation chipped in, providing more than 385 lbs., of non-perishable food and other items to support ongoing relief efforts.

Left to right: Chief of Investigations Steve Horn, Interim Commissioner Pam Epting, Director of Securities Lee Kell, Director of Financial Institutions Jeremy Smith, Director of Consumer Finance Greg Oaks.

The powerful Category 4 storm that swept through the Panhandle and Big Bend on Oct. 10.

“I am proud of our team, and their generous efforts to help friends and neighbors in the Panhandle region who were impacted by this devastating storm,” said Interim Commissioner Pamela Epting. “As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, these donations will benefit families who need them most.”

Donations were delivered to Second Harvest of the Big Bend, a regional food bank serving 11 counties in the Big Bend area.

State reopens hurricane-battered park

Falling Waters State Park in Chipley is again open for day use after briefly closing its gates following Hurricane Michael.

Falling waters state park
Falling Waters is home to the highest cascade in the state.

“Thanks to the hard work of park staff and volunteers, Falling Waters State Park is open for day use,” said Florida State Parks Director Eric Draper. “We hope to reopen all of the state parks impacted by Hurricane Michael as soon as possible.”

As its name suggests, Falling Waters is home a quiet cascade, in fact, the largest one in the state.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Falling Waters suffered significant damage from the powerful Category 4 storm, sustaining downed trees, debris, and structural damage.

Just seven of the 31 state parks closed because of the storm remain unopened.

Utility association recognized for Irma outreach

For its outstanding communication efforts exercised before, during and after Hurricane Irma in 2017, the Florida Municipal Electric Association recently took home an award from the American Public Power Association.

The ‘Award of Merit,’ presented during the American Public Power Association’s Customer Connections Conference in Orlando, honored the “use of social media to communicate information about hurricane preparation, mutual aid coordination, power outages and power restoration efforts in advance,” of the powerful storm, according to FMEA.

Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director, pictured with Coleman Smoak, chair-elect, American Public Power Association and general manager, Piedmont Municipal.

“Not only were we able to get timely information out about outages and power restoration numbers, we were also able to increase the general public’s understanding of the power restoration process and priorities,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “We proudly accept this award and thank the American Public Power Association for bestowing this honor upon us.”

According to FMEA, other members of the group received similar distinctions. Among them: Orlando Utilities Commission, Lakeland Electric, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Beaches Energy Services and Keys Energy in their respective categories and classes. The Florida Municipal Power Agency also was recognized.

University system launches campaign

Those tasked with overseeing the state’s 12 public universities want others to know more about the good work that comes out of each institution.

The State University System announced this week the Our Success is Your Success campaign, an effort to promote universities’ impacts on “social mobility, scientific research, and economic growth.”

A new campaign from the Florida State University system is helping to promote cooperation for “social mobility and economic growth.”

“Our message is simple: When our State University System prospers, so does the rest of the state,” Board of Governors Chair Ned Lautenbach said of the campaign.

To market the good news, the campaign will use social media and other communications. It is being carried out in coordination with the Florida Student Association.

The effort will be carried out by the Florida Student Association, which will host the first-ever State University System day at the capital on February 6.

Florida College System awards Best Practices

Four Sunshine State colleges were recently awarded the Florida College System Chancellor’s Best Practice recognition.

“The Chancellor’s Best Practice Awards is an opportunity for our colleges to showcase innovative program strategies that have proved successful at their colleges and in their communities,” said Chancellor Madeline Pumariega. “The best practice awards recognize colleges for creating successful programs and then sharing the high impact practices with all institutions in the Florida College System.”

The higher education panel distinguished Florida Gateway College for its Second-Chance Pell Pilot Program, which offers education access to inmates upon release.

Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega recognized four state colleges for their ‘Best Practices.’

North Florida Community College took home the award for its
“Dual Enrollment Video Conferencing Model,” which caters to rural high school students seeking college credit.

Pensacola State College received the recognition for its Bellwether Virtual Tutoring Program, which helps an estimated 1,000 students each year find individualized help for their studies.

At Polk State College, the award honored the Establishing Leaders in Teacher Education (ELITE Program), which “provides a seamless pathway from high school to college to employment for aspiring teachers, helping students meet local workforce demands through an affordable fast-track pipeline,” according to the Florida College System.

State featured at medical trade show

Enterprise Florida, the state’s principal economic development organization, this week set up shop at MEDICA, the world’s largest medical trade show.

Joining Enterprise Florida at MEDICA’s Düsseldorf, Germany, were nearly 50 other Florida companies. The annual trade show this year spanned Monday through Thursday.

Florida is represented by a record number of Florida-based companies, and this year also marks the 30th consecutive year Florida has attended the show.

The state’s strong representation at the international event is a good sign for Florida’s medical services industry. Last year, Florida companies reported more than $122 million in sales following the show.

“We are so appreciative of the companies that are joining EFI at MEDICA this year,” said Joe York, Vice-Chairman of Enterprise Florida’s Board of Directors. “Events like MEDICA help Florida’s small and medium-sized businesses expand internationally and showcase their products and services to the life science industry.”

In terms of industry size, Florida is the second-ranked state for medical device and pharmaceuticals manufacturing. Nearly 30,000 Floridians work in biotechnology, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and medical device manufacturing industries, according to Enterprise Florida.

‘Course change’ for license suspensions?

Some free-market think tanks are trying to reform the state’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for crimes not related to operating an automobile.

The James Madison Institute and Reason Foundation released a joint study this week arguing the practice hurts Florida and its taxpayers because it leads to increased court costs and unemployment.

The state suspends licenses for a series of nondriving offenses, the study points out. Among them: most drug crimes, failure to appear in court and failure to pay child support.

Driver’s license suspensions “cut off a vital lifeline for individuals in the workforce,” says Sal Nuzzo.

“These suspensions cut off a vital lifeline for individuals in the workforce, and can herald an endless cycle of fines, court costs, and liabilities that make escaping the criminal justice system nearly impossible,” write Sal Nuzzo, JMI’s vice president of policy, and James Craven, a senior fellow of criminal justice reform at Reason Foundation.

Nuzzo and Craven recommend the state reconsider using license suspensions as a punitive or compliance measure. Other states like California, they note, ended suspensions for minor offenses. In some cases, they suggest giving judges more discretion over suspending licenses, or opting out of the practice entirely.

FSU snags global distinction

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities recently recognized Florida State University its strategies to internationalize the institution.

Sally McRorie, FSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, accepted the 2018 Platinum Level Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research & Engagement last Sunday.

McRorie, along with a team of FSU leaders, accepts the prestigious national award from APLU President Peter McPherson.

The association said FSU had an “extraordinary global-engagement” network. The school received the only ‘Platinum’-level award at the ceremony.

“I think we’re contributing to FSU’s reputation as a place where students can really experience engaged learning in multiple areas, including international study,” said assistant provost Stephen McDowell. “But it’s not only about people who travel abroad. Florida State also creates opportunities on campus for people to engage with students, faculty and speakers from other countries.”

The university also advances its international mission through more than 100 international agreements with partners in 32 countries. In total, FSU faculty members have established affiliations with about 200 institutions worldwide.

More than $1 million in scholarships for study-abroad classes and assists talented students in other countries. International students with at least two semesters abroad can enroll for later classes at FSU and pay in-state tuition.

Hometown hero honored

A shooting earlier this month at a Tallahassee hot yoga studio left two dead and five others injured rocked the nearby community.

But without Joshua Quick, who confronted the shooter allowing others to escape, the casualties could’ve been worse.

In his final City Commission meeting, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum gives the key to the city to Joshua Quick, the man who helped save lives during a shooting at a hot yoga studio last month.

For his actions during the tragedy, Quick was awarded an honorary key to the city by the Tallahassee City Commission, including Mayor Andrew Gillum.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” Quick said, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. “I cannot overstate my gratitude to everybody — the first responders and even the people who were in the yoga studio with me who saw firsthand what transpired.”

A law school student at Florida State University, President John Thrasher announced on Friday that the university would begin raising funds to relieve Quick of his tuition and related expenses.

Capitol Directions

In realm of innovation, Florida ’gets there first‘

There’s a 50 or so mile stretch of California coast where a staggering amount of the western world’s innovations are born.

From San Francisco to Palo Alto, Mountain View and Cupertino, entrepreneurs with big ideas flock there for two reasons: proximity to a highly specialized workforce and access to an embarrassing amount of the most risk-tolerant capital in the world.

Out of this environment, good concepts give birth to billion-dollar companies, seemingly overnight. But as idyllic a spot as Northern California is for a startup to be born, it is likely the most hostile place in America for a disruptive idea to come of age — and that’s where Florida enters this story.

Its long been said that wherever America goes, if Florida isn’t there yet, it will get there first.

This aphorism, usually a reference to evolving demographics, multilingual communities and global connectivity down to the municipal level, has taken on a new meaning in recent years.

Florida is increasingly looked to by industry disrupters as a market ready to embrace innovation.

Continuing to embrace this role will be essential to carving out Florida’s place in the new global economy as the Sunshine State is poised to make its claim as the tourism (and innovation) capitol of the world.

Example 1A: Home sharing.

Airbnb, the mega-unicorn hospitality company that gives people the ability to plug their biggest asset, their homes, into the global tourism industry, injected nearly half a billion dollars directly into our state’s economy in 2017. The company reported that its hosts, everyday Floridians, earned $450 million last year while also remitting $45 million in taxes.

Meanwhile, back in Airbnb’s hometown and birthplace of San Francisco, the company is slogging through a well-documented fight with regulators and hoteliers who in some cases are seeking to ban the activity outright.

If you know any millennials, you’ll know how ridiculous a position this is.

Home sharing platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway aren’t going anywhere, and if Florida is going to continue to be a dominate force in tourism deep into this century, a big reason is going to be because it leans into home sharing. Why not start early and set an example for the rest of the world to follow?

Elon Musk’s fully electric Tesla Model S is the most innovative automobile since the Model T, and that’s just the start. Their sales model is innovative and perhaps most importantly of all, their approach to curbing global climate change is innovative: produce a product so cool, the positive effects on sea level rise are an afterthought to everyone outside of Miami Beach.

While some states are banning the sales of Tesla (which, like Airbnb, is represented in Florida by the lobbying firm — Southern Strategy Group — that seems to specialize in representing disruptive clients), the first new publicly traded U.S. automaker in over 60 years, Florida is full steam — or, full charge — ahead. And why wouldn’t we be? Does anything fit the Florida brand better than a cool ride you can feel good about taking down A1A?

One of Musk’s other concerns, SpaceX, is the odds-on favorite to send the first humans to Mars. The company is targeting a launch date sometime in the 2020s when the next great explorers will takeoff from right here in Florida for an adventure which will surely enthrall humanity for generations to come.

Elon for Governor, anyone?

Florida looked prescient back in 2012 when through the leadership of then-Rep. Jeff Brandes, the state passed one of the nation’s first autonomous vehicle testing bills. At the time, AV’s seemed like technology for a distant future, now, barely half a decade later, the entire country is scrambling to get the technology first.

While California is placing more and regulations on AV operations, Florida would be smart to continue to lead in this space.

The undisputed industry leader, Waymo, recently hired lobbyists in Florida, signaling a potential interest in the state.

AV is widely regarded as the next massive shift that will change the way we live our lives, and the title of AV innovation center of the world is still up for grabs. If Florida can wrangle that flag away from California, it’s hard to overstate the long-term impacts it will have on our economy.

For an excellent example of a local government embracing innovation, you don’t have to look any further than my hometown of St. Pete.

The city entirely re-imagined permitting and compliance by bringing in tech company OpenCounter to automate and streamline those processes. The result is potential entrepreneurs can get businesses off the ground faster.

It’s innovation to promote innovation; as a local business owner, I love it.

State agencies and local governments throughout the state should look for similar solutions that the private sector embraces. Companies like Salesforce and Slack come to mind.

There’s a reason the biggest companies in the world embrace cutting-edge enterprise software and for Florida, doing so could increase efficiency, improve the interaction with citizens, and make the public-sector work environment much more competitive.

There is a lot of reason to be hopeful that Florida will continue on this current trend of embracing innovation. Incoming presiding officers, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Jose Oliva are both champions of innovation and are expected to let industry disrupters prove their mettle in the free market.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced his office would look to become the national leader among the states in cryptocurrency regulation.

These are exciting times to be alive, the world is changing faster than ever, and it seems like us lucky folks in Florida are going to have a front-row seat.

In fact, it might not be long until Florida is known as the innovation (and tourism) capitol of the world.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.16.18

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

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

We thought the Senate District 18 race between Janet Cruz and incumbent Republican Dana Young would be decided on Election Day.

It wasn’t.

Then we thought a recount would be completed by Thursday at 3 p.m. with a winner announced shortly after.

Many thought the Janet Cruz/Dana Young race would be done by now. They were wrong.

Didn’t happen.

So, Hillsborough County voters must wait at least one more day for a manual recount in the closest state Senate race. It will begin at 9 a.m. Friday.

Cruz, the outgoing House Minority Leader, holds a 376-vote lead over Young in the bitterly contested race. Cruz has claimed victory, but Young has not conceded.

According to Hillsborough elections supervisor Craig Latimer, a machine recount completed Thursday showed the vote margin between the two candidates “remained virtually the same.”

However, due to a possible machine malfunction caused by two power outages, the vote total was 846 fewer than on Election Day.

“The fact that the percentages between the candidates remain the same gives us full confidence in our voting process and systems. Even though we achieved 99.84 percent success in our recount effort, we are not willing to accept that votes go unreported,” Latimer said.

“For that reason, the Canvassing Board has decided that the first unofficial results will stand as our second unofficial.”

That means the 207,365 votes will need a manual recount.

Cruz attacked Young during the hard-fought campaign for her alliance with the National Rifle Association while Young hit back with ads about Cruz’s failure to pay property taxes. More than $3.6 million was spent between the candidates on this race.

A Cruz victory would give Democrats some solace. They had targeted SD 18 as one of six Republican-held districts they believed they could flip and gain control of the Senate. They lost the other five target races, so Republicans again will have total control of the Legislature — now that Ron DeSantis officially won his close race against Democrat Andrew Gillum.


@Fineout: A survey of nearly all counties by AP reporters shows there will be at least 60k ballots to go thru during the hand recount — this does not include Broward or Lee. Hand recount covers only undervotes/overvotes not all ballots

@Fineout: Dispatch from fed court from @bsfarrington — P. B. County elex supervisor Susan Bucher testified that it would take until Dec. 15 for the county to finish recounts in Senate, governor’s race, ag commish and a House race.

@ScottForFlorida: With the statewide machine recount finished, our margin of victory has increased by nearly 1000 votes. @SenBillNelson, it’s time to admit this race is over.

@BethReinhardRick Scott campaign estimates it picked up 865 in machine recount. What a bust for Bill Nelson.

@PatriciaMazzei: The Nelson camp is, um, unlikely to concede. Nelson’s lead recount lawyer has argued all along that the only place where he might make significant gains is in a manual recount, if any major machine tabulation error is found.

@DanTallahassee: @FLGovScott, tentatively GOP Sen-elect, actually picked up @AndrewGillum, the Dem Gov candidate, from the Tallahassee tarmac on the Friday night of the Capital City shooting just days ahead of Election Day, per @KevinCate.

@NewsBySmiley: @AndrewGillum issues a statement that does not include the words “concede,” or “congratulations”

@TroyKinsey: One Republican is all for a manual recount: @mattcaldwell_fl, still trailing in the ag commish race. In a statement tonight, he says he’s “pleased the recount will move forward as we continue working to uncover the truth about what happened in Broward County.”

@RickHasen: If there is a worse election administrator in the entire country than Brenda Snipes, I’m not aware of that person.

@Mdixon55: This is all leading up to a Brenda Snipes book deal, right?

@NickConfessore: If my signature had to match every time, I would not only not ever be allowed to vote, I’d never be allowed to use a credit card ever again.

@AdamPutnam: I testified today at the U.S. International Trade Commission in DC on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Unfortunately, the trade environment created under USMCA is anything but a fair and level playing field for Florida agriculture, a $120B industry that supports 2M jobs


Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 2; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 4; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 4; Thanksgiving — 6; Black Friday — 7; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 11; Partial government shutdown — 21; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 26; 116th Congress convenes — 48; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 73; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 88; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 109; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 113; Iowa Caucuses — 444; 2020 General Election — 718.


Judge: Florida election problems make it a ‘laughingstock’” via Gary Fineout and Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — A federal judge slammed Florida for repeatedly failing to anticipate election problems and said the state law on recounts appears to violate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that decided the presidency in 2000. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker also rejected a request to extend the deadline later in the day for all of the state’s counties to submit the results of a machine recount. “We have been the laughingstock of the world, election after election, and we chose not to fix this,” Walker said in court. Walker vented his anger at state lawmakers and Palm Beach County officials, saying they should have made sure they had enough equipment in place to handle this kind of a recount. But he said he could not extend the recount deadline because he did not know when Palm Beach County would finish its work.

Judge Mark Walker laments that Florida is a ‘laughingstock’ from this recount business.

After all the drama, Broward finishes recount with minutes to spare — but it won’t count” via the Miami Herald — With just 15 minutes to go, Broward County finally finished recounting every vote. At least, that’s what officials told reporters and the canvassing board at 2:45 p.m. In a surprise announcement at nearly 6 p.m., Broward’s director of elections planning, Joseph D’Alessandro, told the canvassing board the county actually turned in results to the state two minutes late. They won’t count officially. Broward’s original count, due Nov. 10, will stand until the manual recount totals come in Sunday at noon. The manual recount will be added to the first official count. “Basically, I just worked my ass off for nothing,” D’Alessandro said.

Palm Beach County fails to meet recount deadline” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher has missed the deadline to complete several machine recounts following last week’s midterm elections. The state’s deadline to submit machine recount totals was Thursday at 3 p.m. A bit confusingly, county officials are still allowed to continue the machine recount. However, the numbers determining whether a race will go on to a hand recount are locked in as of 3 p.m. Races within 0.25 percentage points following a machine recount are recounted by hand, per Florida law.

Old, overheating machines led Susan Bucher and Palm Beach County to fail to meet its latest recount deadline.

Palm Beach elections chief cutting back 24/7 operation” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Bucher told Judge Walker that old ballot-counting machines and an exhausted staff led her to dial back the workload to meet state-mandated deadlines. “We have been going at a pace of 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Bucher said during a court hearing. “And we will not be able to continue this pace moving forward.” Bucher’s testimony via telephone was part of a federal court case brought by Democrat state House candidate Jim Bonfiglio, who is just 37 votes behind GOP opponent Mike Caruso. The race is the closest of the four requiring recounts, but state law does not say whether the recount could be completed before the races for governor and agriculture commissioner.

“Only Bay County accepted fax, email ballots, elections officials confirm” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Bay County’s Supervisor of Elections stood alone in Florida when he allowed voters displaced by Hurricane Michael to cast ballots by email and fax. But while no other officials took the compassionate but clearly illegal course of action, more than one questioned why state prohibited elections officials from accepting votes electronically under the circumstances. “My displaced voters unfortunately just had the option for sending ballots in the mail,” said John Hanlon, Gulf County Supervisor of Elections. “But I absolutely wanted to do it.”

Florida Dems planned to use altered forms to fix mail ballots across state after deadline” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — A day after Florida’s election left top state races too close to call, a Democratic Party leader directed staffers and volunteers to share altered election forms with voters to fix signature problems on absentee ballots after the state’s deadline. The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal prosecutors to review for possible election fraud as Florida counties complete a required recount in three top races. But an email shows that Florida Democrats were organizing a broader statewide effort beyond those counties to give voters the altered forms to fix improper absentee ballots after the Nov. 5 deadline. Democratic Party leaders provided staffers with copies of a form, known as a “cure affidavit,” that had been modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline. Jake Sanders, a Democratic campaign consultant based in Treasure Coast who saw the email, said he warned party staffers about the legality of the email, but was ignored.

Tweet, tweet: 


Rick Scott wants to stop a recount he’s winning. That’s silly. Here’s why.” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Even as a recount netted Republican Scott votes, he continued to call on Democratic opponent Bill Nelson to somehow stop the process. “With over two-thirds of the machine recount completed, our margin of victory has grown,” Scott tweeted. Scott spokesman Chris Hartline said with all counties reporting recount results, Scott’s campaign netted votes statewide. Recount results released by the Division of Elections verify the gap between Scott and Nelson grew by 41 votes.

Despite an increasing lead, Rick Scott is continuing to call for a stop to the U.S. Senate race recount. (Image via Getty)

Bill Nelson seeking recount of all ballots in Palm Beach County” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics —Arguing that Palm Beach County’s problems with machines breaking down during the machine recount this week, Nelson‘s campaign has sued in state court seeking to force a recount of all half-million ballots there. Palm Beach County is not the main hope for Nelson’s campaign as the state moves to the ordered hand recount in all 67 counties. That recount is just of ballots identified as undervotes or overvotes in the U.S. Senate election, which Scott leads by about 12,600 votes. Rather, Marc Elias, lead recount lawyer for Nelson, told reporters that myriad factors, including the campaign’s victory so far to allow for some mail-in ballots rejected due to mismatched signatures and other factors, but also on the under and overvotes, particularly in Broward County, where there were an unprecedented 23,000 of them. “There will now be a hand recount. This is in fact what we have been seeking all along.

Scott’s ‘fraud’ claims make punchline for late-night TV — In a news release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Scott’s “desperation made late-night TV” referencing how Seth Meyers recently pointed out the Florida Governor and U.S. Senate candidate is spreading “conspiracy theories” about voter fraud. “So as the results get worse for Republicans, they are getting more desperate,” Meyers said on his late-night show. “They seem to be focusing their desperation on Florida, where Governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott has been spreading baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud amid a recount there in an incredibly tight race. And now he and his lawyers won’t even say that they’ll accept the results as legitimate if he loses. So Republicans have been spreading lies about nonexistent voter fraud without any evidence.”

Using coded language, Scott calls for Terrie Rizzo to quit as head of Florida Democrats” via Florida Politics — The Scott campaign is calling on incumbent Nelson “to demand the immediate resignation” of Florida Democratic Party Chair RizzoJackie Schutz Zeckman, Scott’s campaign manager, sent an email to news media Thursday. “News reports … revealed that the Florida Democrat Party (sic) engaged in an illegal scheme to alter election forms and deceive voters regarding the deadlines for submitting votes,” she said, using the term of disparagement invented by Republicans … Nelson “can either stay silent and be in favor of organized fraud by the Democrat Party (sic), or he can do the right thing and demand the immediate resignation of Florida’s Democrat Party (sic) Chair,” she added.

More ‘vitriol’ than 2000 in current recount” via Florida Politics — Barry Richard, representing Democrat Gillum as the recount progresses, has a unique perspective on these matters. In 2000, Richard was George W. Bush‘s lawyer. Unlike 18 years ago, Richard’s client may not prevail. And beyond that, he found it “disturbing” that “people are a lot nastier today, both the voters and the candidates,” exhibiting more “vitriol” than even that fever-pitch Presidential year. The recount is but one concern; another was structural: There are “no consistent standards from county to county. That’s a violation of everybody’s equal protection rights.”

Scott campaign raises $1.4 million to support ballot battles” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics. — Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign has pulled in more than $1.4 million to support his legal and public relations battles over Florida’s vote recounts in that race. “Scott will continue to aggressively fight to defend the will of Florida voters, and Florida Finance Chairwoman Darlene Jordan and National Finance Chairman Thomas Hicks will continue to oversee fundraising efforts in support of this mission,” his campaign declared. Through the latest publicly available reports posted with the Federal Election Commission, Scott’s campaign had raised almost $68 million, and more than $51 million of that came from Scott’s personal wealth. Nelson’s campaign, by comparison, raised just under $25 million, but it all was from outside sources. Thursday’s announcement regarding the $1.4 million in new money to support the recount efforts did not indicate whether any of that money was donated by Scott.


Ron DeSantis emerges on top in Florida as Nelson-Scott race goes to manual recount” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis’ election night lead held, and he now has officially beat Democrat Gillum, an outcome that was largely expected. To qualify for a manual recount, a race has to be within a .25 margin or less; after the machine recount, DeSantis maintained a .41 percent lead. Gillum refused to concede Thursday. “A vote denied is justice denied — the State of Florida must count every legally cast vote. As today’s unofficial reports and recent court proceedings make clear, there are tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted,” he said in a statement. “We plan to do all we can to ensure that every voice is heard in this process.” “I invite Mayor Gillum to join me in the days ahead in a conversation about the future of our great state,” DeSantis said in a statement after the results were finalized. “We have both traveled the state and met Floridians from all walks of life.” The biggest election now headed to a hand recount is the U.S. Senate race, where Nelson continues to trail Republican Gov. Scott by more than 12,000 votes. With more than 8 million total cast, it’s well within the .25 margin for a hand recount.

After a machine recount in the Florida Governor’s race, Ron DeSantis is finally declared the official winner.

Nikki Fried clings to recount lead; Matt Caldwell alleges Broward counted late ballots” via Jacob Ogles at Florida Politics — Attorneys for Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Caldwell say Broward County collected and counted thousands of votes after the election was over. That’s enough to chip at or even erase Democrat Fried’s current lead. Results from a statewide recount show the Democratic candidate leading Caldwell by 5,307 votes, a slightly narrower lead than the 5,326-vote gap reported in the initial tabulation of the race. Caldwell’s legal team sued last week for records from Broward County, the seeming ground zero for Florida’s latest statewide recount news extravaganza. Those records were only turned over last night at 8 p.m. The records showed more than 17,000 vote-by-mail ballots came in on Election Day or after, said Caldwell attorney George LeMieux. Of those, 6,873 did not get logged until after 7 p.m., after polls closed.


DeSantis vetting chief of staff candidates, including some familiar names” via Florida Politics — At least four people are in the running to become DeSantis‘ chief of staff: Kathy MearsScott RossScott Parkinson, and Shane Strum. DeSantis “has discussed the position with all four,” one source said during an interview in Orlando where dozens of Adams Streeters are meeting for a handful of postelection conferences, though “he still plans to talk to more.” Absent from the list is Susie Wiles, the veteran Jacksonville political operative who took the helm of Donald Trump’s Florida campaign, and more recently assumed the chair of DeSantis’ campaign for Governor during the final stretch.


No talk of special session” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — In the bubbled world of Tallahassee, rumors started to spread before the polls closed of North Carolina-style special sessions by outgoing GOP politicos in case Democrats won statewide races. With Fried ahead in the unofficial vote tallies for Agriculture Commissioner, such chatter intensified, especially over the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ handling of concealed-weapon licenses. So far, however, there is no formal sign of a special session. “There have been no plans or discussions, in any way, with respect to a special session to address any issue with the Department of Agriculture,” Fred Piccolo, a House spokesman said when asked about the issue. Katie Betta, a spokeswoman for incoming Senate President Bill Galvano gave a similar response. “No. President-Designate Galvano has not been not involved in such a discussion,” Betta said.

No, there will be no Special Session to deal with a Democratic Agriculture Commissioner, says incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. (Image via Herald-Tribune)

Dane Eagle, Ray Rodrigues take on new roles in final state House terms” via Sara Jarvis of — Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican, will be the new House Majority Leader under new Speaker of the House Jose Oliva, of Miami Lakes. Eagle will replace Rodrigues of Estero, who will chair the Health and Human Services Committee. Eagle, who was previously the Majority Whip, said his new position will allow him to do “a great amount of good” for Southwest Florida. He said he and the leadership team will pursue policies to give the area more relief, adding that water quality issues will be especially important to him in his new role. “We’ll be doing everything we can to bring those issues to the top, as long as they’re good for all of Florida, which they will be,” Eagle said.

Wyman Duggan won’t be HD 15 short-timer” via Florida Politics — In the expensive and brutal race in House District 15, Republican Duggan defeated Democrat Tracye Polson by 51 percent to 49 percent. Duggan, a connected land-use attorney backed by a wide swath of Jacksonville’s political establishment, is uniquely positioned to advocate for the city’s interests. Unlike predecessors, he sees the seat as more than a steppingstone. “It’s been a long time since somebody’s done the whole eight years.” The Representative-elect sees the role as “an opportunity to serve Jacksonville, this region, and the district, and to pass the baton.”

Bob Buckhorn appoints first member to All For Transportation oversight committee” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Tampa Mayor Buckhorn has made the first appointment to the All For Transportation oversight committee that will act as a steward of taxpayer revenue funding transportation and transit improvements in Hillsborough County. Buckhorn appointed former Florida Senator Arthenia Joyner to the committee. “Throughout her time in the Florida Legislature, Senator Joyner proved to be a tireless fiscal steward for our community while being laser-focused on fighting for the needs of Tampanians, not only in her district but across the region,” Buckhorn said …. The committee will eventually consist of 16 nonelected officials appointed from a variety of boards and elected officials. Mayors of all three Hillsborough cities … each get an appointee. Buckhorn gets a second appointee because the city’s population exceeds 200,000.


Gwen Graham joins ‘Rebuild 850’ efforts after Hurricane Michael” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Rep. Graham is joining efforts to rebuild the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael, taking a leadership position with the Rebuild 850 initiative. Graham, who finished second in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, will serve as a co-chair for the group along with GOP former Florida House Speakers Allan Bense and Will Weatherford. Rebuild 850 urges people to donate, volunteer, and invest in the region hit hardest by the storm. The organization attempts to coordinate the efforts of various groups such as Volunteer Florida, the Florida League of Cities, the American Red Cross, and many others. “The people of North Florida have always been proudly self-reliant, but in the unprecedented aftermath of Hurricane Michael, they need all of Florida to pull together on their behalf,” Graham said.

Important deadlines approach for hurricane survivors in Florida” via WJHG — Disaster Unemployment Assistance: Survivors in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington Counties have until Nov. 14 to apply. Survivors in Leon County have until Nov. 16. Blue Roof program: Deadline to submit a Right of Entry (ROE) is Nov. 16. Homeowners must sign an ROE form to allow government employees and contractors onto their property to assess damage and install the temporary covering. Applying for disaster assistance is a two-step process. First, register for assistance, then submit your SBA disaster loan application. The deadline to apply for SBA is Monday, Dec. 10. You can register for assistance by any of these ways: Log onto Call 800-621-3362. If you use 711 or VRS or require accommodations while visiting a center, call 800-621-3362. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Longtime Lake County state Rep. Everett A. Kelly dead at 92” via Frank Stanfield at The Daily Commercial — Kelly, former longtime member of the Florida House of Representatives, a pharmacist, conservationist and outdoor writer for The Daily Commercial, died Tuesday. He was 92. Kelly, a Democrat who served in the House for 22 years, was speaker pro tem for two years in 1990-91. He had a knack for getting appropriations for Lake County. The auditorium at Lake-Sumter State College is named in his honor. Legend has it that he was the one in Tallahassee who was able to pull the strings so that The Villages could build the golf cart bridge over U.S. Highway 441, the first of its kind.

RIP: Longtime Lake County state Rep. Everett Kelly has passed at age 92. (Image via Daily Commercial)

A good time to drill” via Florida Politics — As Florida waited to find out the eventual results of its recounts, the Florida Petroleum Council urged renewed consideration of offshore drilling. The timing is interesting, as presumed Gov.-elect DeSantis said he would “utilize his unique relationship with President Trump and his administration to ensure that oil drilling never occurs off Florida’s coastlines.” The industry group asserted potential revenue of $2.5 billion as a result of offshore leasing.

FITCon 2018: Cable industry making strides in diversity, inclusion” via Florida Politics — The cable industry is moving in the right direction when it comes to engaging women and minorities in content and employment, but there’s more work to make the industry even more equitable. Florida Internet and Television’s FITCon 2018 kicked off Thursday with a with a panel chaired by state Rep. Mike La Rosa that brought a diverse group of cable veterans together to reflect on the past 40 years of diversity and inclusion efforts as well as what needs to happen over the next 40. Former Charter Communications VP Mike Robertson said when he entered the cable industry in the late 1970s that there was no lack of innovative thinkers, but there wasn’t a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Hearing set in Senate discrimination case” via the News Service of Florida — Judge Robert Hinkle this week scheduled the hearing after canceling arguments that had been planned for Nov. 8, according to an online docket. Legislative aide Rachel Perrin Rogers filed a discrimination complaint in January with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Senate filed a lawsuit in Hinkle’s court seeking a preliminary injunction to block an administrative law judge from requiring the Senate’s participation in the EEOC case. The Senate contends, in part, that it is protected by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, though EEOC lawyers are fighting the Senate on the issue.

Scott schedules execution in 1992 murder” via the News Service of Florida — After the Florida Supreme Court cleared the way, Gov. Scott scheduled a Dec. 13 execution for a Death Row inmate convicted in the 1992 murder of a Miami-Dade County woman. Scott signed a death warrant in July and initially scheduled the execution of Jose Antonio Jimenez in August. But the Supreme Court issued a stay of execution so it could look further at issues in the case. The Supreme Court on Oct. 4 lifted the stay, allowing Scott to reschedule the execution. Jimenez, now 55, was convicted in the killing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas during a burglary, according to court documents.

Deadly FIU bridge suffered from design flaws, feds say” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — The two-page report by the National Transportation Safety Board stops short of blaming the design errors for the bridge’s collapse, which killed six people, including an FIU student. But the investigative update bolsters conclusions reached by independent bridge engineering experts consulted by the Miami Herald and others posting in online professional forums. Three experts consulted separately concluded that design flaws at the north end of the unfinished bridge’s 174-foot span over Southwest Eighth Street were likely a leading contributor to the collapse. The NTSB brief echoes what the experts told the Herald after examining publicly available engineering calculations and plans for the bridge: Design errors meant that a key structural connection in the span, a point at which a diagonal strut identified as Number 11 met the deck of the bridge span and a vertical column, was too weak to support the large forces it was supposed to withstand.

A preliminary federal investigation found design flaws in the FIU bridge, which collapsed earlier this year, killing six people.

Conservative group takes Tampa conversion therapy ban challenge to federal court” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A conservative advocacy group is in federal court this week trying to overturn Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy in which counselors seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The group Liberty Counsel filed suit last December after Tampa City Council unanimously approved the ban and implemented harsh fines for counselors who violated it. Now the group is getting their day in court describing the ban as one that blocks minors from “seeking to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors or identity.” The Tampa ban applies only to minors and was adopted after numerous accounts nationwide of children who claimed to be psychologically scarred from the practice, which was forced upon them by parents, guardians or church leaders. Numerous medical groups have denounced the practiceIt’s banned in 12 states and the District of Columbia.

Trial ordered in employment dispute at Navy’s cybersecurity school” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A company that provides cybersecurity training at the Navy’s Joint Cyber Analysis Course in Pensacola will get a trial on its claims that four employees violated an agreement not to seek work with other subcontractors at the school. Circuit Judge John Miller of Pensacola accepted at face value claims that Epsilon Inc. had initiated job offers to Paul HutchinsonKurt BernardJasper Stone, and Michael Flemming, who’d worked for Convergent Technologies IncThe 1st District Court of Appeal noted that Hutchinson had complained about his unhappiness with CTI to an Epsilon employee, raising a “reasonable inference” that he “might have been complaining just a little too loudly about employment woes with CTI in a working environment where everyone involved knew there was more than one subcontractor on the job to hear their protests.”

Supreme Court greenlights judge-lawyer Facebook friendships” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — A divided Florida Supreme Court has given judges permission to maintain Facebook friendships with trial attorneys, settling a divide between lower state appeals courts and siding with the majority of courts and ethics overseers in other states. The majority opinion, by Chief Justice Charles Canady, noted that the court hasn’t considered actual friendships between judges and attorneys who appear before them ground for the judges to recuse themselves absent additional evidence of conflicts of interest. Justice Barbara Pariente … argued in a dissenting opinion in favor of automatic recusal whenever a judge is Facebook friends with a litigant.

Praise for defendant brings rebuke for Miami-Dade judge” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Supreme Court has OK’d a public reprimand for Miami-Dade County Judge Deborah White-Labora, concluding she tarnished her position by writing a character reference for a defendant in a federal prosecution. “Accordingly, we hereby command Judge Deborah White-Labora to appear before this court for the administration of a public reprimand at a time to be established by the clerk of this court,” the justices said unanimously Thursday in an unsigned opinionThe judge, who once ran the county’s drug court and now presides over a domestic-violence calendar, had entered into a stipulation agreement with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, acknowledging wrongdoing and accepting the public reprimand. “Although we recognize that Judge White-Labora’s conduct was well-intentioned, as Judge White-Labora understands by her agreement to the violations and discipline, her conduct is prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct,” the high court said.

Years after the ribbon cutting, USF sorts out a funding mix-up with one of its buildings” via Megan Reeves of the Tampa Bay Times — A state-ordered review of construction funding at Florida universities has uncovered a multimillion-dollar funding snag at the University of South Florida that officials there are not fully explaining. The mix-up involves the $21.7 million Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, a research facility completed in 2010 on the USF Tampa campus. The review found that USF spent $6.4 million in unauthorized funds to complete the center, a problem the university blamed on a donor who failed to come through with promised contributions for the building. Was that donor Patel, the prominent Tampa doctor and philanthropist whose name is on the center? The university is not saying, and Patel insists he gave exactly what he had pledged. Now, USF leaders are making plans for a formal internal review of what happened. Patel is the only publicly known donor to the center.

Happening Saturday  — The 2018 annual ‘Feeding Tampa Bay’ food giveaway, sponsored by state Rep. Danny Burgess, will be held this weekend and needs volunteers. Email or if interested, 9 a.m., Dade City Business Center (front parking lot), 15000 Citrus Country Drive, Dade City.


Trump picks another Mar-a-Lago member for ambassador” via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — Trump nominated couture handbag designer Lana Marks, a resident of Palm Beach and member of the Mar-a-Lago Club, as ambassador to South Africa. Marks, 64, is the fourth member of Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago, that he has tapped for an ambassadorship. Other club members recruited by Trump for top diplomatic posts include: Robin Bernstein, a founding member of Mar-a-Lago and staunch supporter and defender of the president, as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Philanthropist Patrick Park, who once claimed that most of the 200 fundraisers he hosted were at Mar-a-Lago, was picked as ambassador to Austria but cited family responsibilities when he turned down Trump’s invitation. Brian Burns, a major Trump donor, also declined a post as ambassador to Ireland for health reasons.

Custom handbag designer Lana Marks, a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, is now an ambassador to South Africa.


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

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Frank Alcock, assistant professor of political science and environmental studies at New College; Katie Sanders, managing editor at PolitiFact; Mike Fasano, Pasco County tax collector; and Tara Newsome, attorney and professor at St. Petersburg College.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres will discuss the Florida election recount process. Joining Walker-Torres are Aubrey Jewett, a political-science professor at the University of Central Florida, and Ryan Tyson, vice president of political operations at Associated Industries of Florida.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: The latest on Florida’s election recount; Hillsborough County voted to improve roadways, All for Transportation officials Christina Barker and Brian Willis will explain what comes next; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made in a meme about Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC)Gary Yordon will host a panel with Steve VancoreSean Pittman and Screven Watson.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXTRick Mullaney, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute; Chris Hand, attorney Democratic voting observer; Jerry Holland, former Duval Supervisor of Elections; and Bert Ralston, a Republican strategist.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the ballot recount following the midterms. Plus, the roundtable takes on the news of the week.

— ALOE —

’Toxic’ is Oxford Word of the Year. No, we’re not gaslighting you.” via Jennifer Schuessler of The New York Times — Katherine Connor Martin, the company’s head of U.S. dictionaries, said there had been a marked uptick of interest in the word on its website over the past year. But the word was chosen less for statistical reasons, she said than for the sheer variety of contexts in which it has proliferated, from conversations about environmental poisons to laments about today’s poisonous political discourse to the #MeToo movement, with its calling out of “toxic masculinity.” In fact, Martin said, the committee initially considered choosing “toxic masculinity,” until it realized how widespread “toxic” itself had become. “So many different things,” she said, “are tied together by the word.”

Widespread use of the word ‘toxic’— as in ‘toxic masculinity’ — made it Oxford’s 2018 Word of the Year. (Image via Petros Karadjias/Associated Press)

Retailers optimistic about holiday season” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Sunshine State sellers should beat 2017’s year-end shopping sales, according to the Florida Retail Federation, the state’s premier vendor association. That’s welcome news to Florida retailers, who typically rely on the swift-approaching days of festivities for 20-40 percent of their yearly sales. And “this time of year shines the spotlight even brighter on retailers and their impact,” FRF President and CEO Scott Shalley told reporters. FRF anticipates holiday sales to increase 4.5 percent from last year, a result of strong statewide economic indicators like low unemployment, record-breaking tourism and healthy consumer confidence. “Holiday shopping is vital to the success of Florida’s retail industry and we are excited about the continued growth in sales for 2018,” added Shalley.

Disney union takes credit for Universal raising minimum wage to $12” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — After winning their own fight for higher wages, the UNITE HERE union representing hospitality workers at Disney World held a rally demanding Universal employees get the same raise. At the same time workers marched, Universal appeared to meet some of their demands, announcing it will raise starting wages at its Orlando resort to $12 per hour in February. Universal spokesman Tom Schroeder told the Orlando Sentinel it was a “long-planned” decision. But It’s also not unexpected. While employees at Universal, SeaWorld Orlando and other area resorts aren’t unionized like their counterparts at Disney World, they have followed the Mouse’s lead when it comes to compensation.

Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee.

Last Call for 11.15.18 — 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

ICYMI — Ron DeSantis has lined up some solid candidates, including familiar names from the Capitol, to be his chief of staff. Click here to find out who’s in the running so far.

A federal judge today rejected U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s request to extend the 3 p.m. recount deadline. So, it’s looking like counties that failed to meet the deadline will have to report their pre-recount numbers as their election results.

The end is in sight. And we think it’s fitting to take a step for a minute. Instead of talking about the recount itself, let’s talk about what it actually means for Florida.

The two apparent takeaways: The Sunshine State electorate is divided and its election laws need a realignment.

Don’t take our word for it, that’s the consensus from David Johnson, Kevin Cate and Steve Schale — three top strategists from both sides of the aisle who were more than intimately involved in this year’s election.

“Right now we’re finding out that we can wrestle with laws that we have,” Johnson, a Republican political consultant, told a Tallahassee Tiger Bay audience Thursday. “The good news is [the election] will end, the bad news is we’re going to have to redo some things.”

His legislative forecast: “I think we’ll have a great opportunity in this Session to address some of those failings.”

Kevin Cate, a Democratic media consultant hired by Andrew Gillum’s campaign for Governor, spoke to the likely losing margin of the race — less than a half-percent, or in his words: zero percent when you round.

On the back end, Cate suggested, both sides likely won’t be able to point out the causal winning or losing factor.

“I think it would be disingenuous for anyone to point to any particular moment,” Cate said.

In the words of Schale, a Democratic strategist known notably for his work on President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns: “We are a deeply divided country, and we live in a state where people come from all over the country, so we’re a deeply divided state.”

So, expect some changes to related statutes. But bet big on more recount-triggering margins in the future.

Evening Reads

Federal judge rejects Bill Nelson’s request to give counties more time to finish recounts” via Steve Bousquet and Elizabeth Koh of the Times/Herald

Judge allows late voter fixes for bad signature ballots” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

How about now? Winning first recount, Rick Scott asks again for Bill Nelson to concede” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Bill Nelson campaign wants state to turn over names on rejected ballots” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

More ‘vitriol’ now than in 2000 recount: Andrew Gillum’s lawyer” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Janet Cruz-Dana Young race heads to manual recount in Hillsborough” via Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Dems planned to use altered forms to fix mail ballots across state after deadline” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News

Florida students overseas skeptical their votes will count” via Samantha Gross of the Tampa Bay Times

Broward County finishes its recount of top Florida races minutes before state deadline” via Lisa Conley of the Naples Daily News

‘We broke down:’ Why Palm Beach County won’t meet recount deadline” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Sloppy signatures, late ballots highlight perils of voting by mail” via Anthony Man and Skyler Swisher of the Sun Sentinel

Special session unlikely for Ag. Commissioner concealed-weapons purview” via the News Service of Florida

Supreme Court greenlights judge-lawyer Facebook friendships” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics

New push for offshore drilling as Florida awaits recount results” via Florida Politics

Chasing the Saudi government’s connection to a Sarasota gated community and the 9/11 attacks: Bob Graham doggedly chases the truth” via Lucy Morgan for the Florida Phoenix

Quote of the Day

Bill Nelson has “to decide if he wants to preserve his legacy and go out with dignity or if he wants to forever be remembered as the guy that liberal interest groups used in an effort to win the presidential election two years early.” — Chris Hartline, spokesman for Scott for Florida.

Bill Day’s Latest


Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The Florida State University Board of Trustees will meet after holding committee meetings Thursday. That’s at 8:15 a.m., Florida State University, Augustus B. Turnbull III Conference Center, 555 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.           

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue a four-day meeting in Broward County. Among the topics Friday will be a review of recommendations and findings for a January report. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will discuss interest rates used for appropriations, including bond rates in the Public Education Capital Outlay, or PECO, program. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Economic Estimating Conference will analyze issues related to the Florida economy. That’s at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will release the October unemployment figures at 10 a.m.

Looking Ahead

The 2018 annual ‘Feeding Tampa Bay’ food giveaway, sponsored by state Rep. Danny Burgess, will be held this weekend and needs volunteers. Email or if interested. It starts Saturday at 9 a.m., Dade City Business Center (front parking lot), 15000 Citrus Country Drive, Dade City.

Ron DeSantis vetting chief of staff candidates, including some familiar names

At least four people are in the running to become Ron DeSantis‘ chief of staff: Kathy Mears, Scott Ross, Scott Parkinson, and Shane Strum, according to sources familiar with the interview process.

DeSantis “has discussed the position with all four,” one source said during an interview in Orlando where dozens of Adams Streeters are meeting for a handful of post-election conferences, though “he still plans to talk to more.”

Absent from the list is Susie Wiles, the veteran Jacksonville political operative who took the helm of Donald Trump’s Florida campaign, and more recently assumed the chair of DeSantis’ campaign for Governor during the final stretch.

Wiles is expected to return to her position as managing partner in Ballard Partners‘ Jacksonville office after the inauguration, a source familiar with Wiles’ thinking told Florida Politics.

The chief of staff position would be Wiles’ for the taking and while she is determined to assist the Governor-elect build out a capable executive branch, she’s looking forward to being back int he private sector.

Here’s a little background on the four contenders being discussed:

— Mears, chief legislative affairs officer for Florida State University, previously served as chief of staff to two consecutive Florida House speakers, Will Weatherford (2012-14) and Steve Crisafulli (2014-16).

Mears also has been a top advisor to former Senate Presidents Ken Pruitt and Tom Lee, was deputy chief of staff to former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, served as campaign communications director to Congressman Daniel Webster, and was a vice president at On 3 Public Relations in Tallahassee.

— Ross, an early DeSantis supporter and top lobbyist at Capital City Consulting, was Deputy Secretary at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, serving as the chief regulator for gaming, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, hotels and restaurants, condominiums, timeshares, and mobile homes.

He also was Director of Government Relations for “one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” as well as Executive Director of the Florida Student Association, an association compromised of more than 300,000 members across the state of Florida.

— Strum is senior vice president for South Florida’s Memorial Healthcare System.

Before that, he was vice chancellor of business development for Keiser University and was a transition adviser to Gov. Rick Scott. Strum also was chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist.

— Parkinson was DeSantis’ congressional chief of staff and also has been Deputy Legislative Director to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

He also was Executive Director of the Republican Study Committee, a “caucus of conservative members of the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.15.18

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

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

A top of Sunburn, welcome to the world greeting to Olivia Grace Logan, the beautiful daughter of Katie Ballard and Brian Logan, born Sunday at 10:07 a.m. Mom says everyone is doing well and is so in love.

A top of Sunburn scoop important to those in the legislative process: House Speaker-designate Jose Oliva has named Carol Gormley, a highly regarded health care expert and legislative staffer, as his chief of staff. Read more about the hire here.

Florida Internet & Television (FiTV) will hold its second annual 2018 Florida Internet & Television Conference, known as “FITConFL.”

Formerly known as the Florida Cable and Telecommunications Association’s Annual Meeting, it’s been reimagined and redesigned to facilitate leading policy and industry discussions for the evolving internet and television industries, the organization said in a news release.

CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney will keynote the newly reimagined and redesigned Florida Internet & Television Conference — FITConFL.

“On the heels of Florida’s historic 2018 statewide election, FITCon Florida will give you the opportunity to join Florida’s top industry leaders to receive updates on recent state and federal legislative & regulatory policy developments impacting our industry; learn the state of telemedicine and meeting consumer demand for connectivity; hear from experts on meeting workforce challenges; explore what’s next for connected cities; and much more,” it said.

Florida House members Randy Fine, Jason Fischer, Jamie Grant, and Mike La Rosa, all with backgrounds in state technology and innovation policy, will each moderate a panel with industry leaders to discuss issues critical to the internet and television industry.

In addition to panels, the conference will feature keynote speaker Phil McKinney, CEO of CableLabs, who will “reveal new and coming developments in robotics, cybersecurity, AI and the cloud.”

The two-day conference starts Thursday at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando.


@SamStein: TRUMP: “If you buy a box of cereal — you have a voter ID”

—@MarcoRubio: What is crooked cannot be made straight, and you cannot count what is not there. Ecclesiastes 1:15

@MarcEElias: You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. Exodus 23:1

@ScottForFlorida: I recused myself from certifying results on the Elections Canvassing Commission in 2014, and I will do so again this year. This is nothing new. Bill Nelson is confused and doesn’t even know how Florida works- I have no role in supervising/ overseeing the ongoing recount process.

@Fineout: Right now the U.S. Senate is scheduled to convene on Jan. 3, 2019. Scott’s term as governor does not end until the following week. By law, he cannot serve 2 offices at same time. Yet Scott — who has declared himself the winner in race — has not turned in resignation letter

@SteveBousquet: Florida reports 3,688 mail ballots rejected so far in 45 counties, and 93 rejected provisional ballots. Figures from state Division of Elections. Sen. Bill Nelson, trailing Gov. Rick Scott by 12,562 votes in Senate race, wants these votes to count. The list came out in court.

@Daniel_Sweeney: .@BrowardVotes reports that machine recount will be completed early in the morning Thursday. Consensus among the lawyers and election observers in the room is an 11:30 a.m. over/under.

@MDixon55: Boy, would have been cool if we could have hammered out all these apparent “disenfranchising” laws, you know, before the election.


Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 3; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 5; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 5; Thanksgiving — 7; Black Friday — 8; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 12; Partial government shutdown — 22; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 27; 116th Congress convenes — 49; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 74; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 89; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 110; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 114; Iowa Caucuses — 445; 2020 General Election — 719.


Judge to decide on allowing late voter fixes for bad signature ballots” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — County election officials are largely winging it when they determine whether a signature on a mail or provisional ballot doesn’t match what’s on file for a given voter, an attorney for Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign and Florida Democrats told a federal judge Wednesday. “There are defects inherent in the process,” attorney Uzoma Nkwonta said to Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, mentioning an absence of handwriting standards to guide county canvassing board members, who ultimately make the call on whether a signature doesn’t match. But Mohammad Jazil, who represents Secretary of State Ken Detzner, Florida’s chief elections officer, said Nelson’s solution was untenable: Lifting the state’s deadline to still allow voters to prove they are who they say they are. “If we start changing the rules midstream, it undermines” people’s faith in the electoral process, Jazil said. Walker did not rule from the bench at the end of the nearly five-hour hearing; he also did not give a timeline for his decision.

Florida’s midterm election recount continues making waves in Broward County … and federal court.

Ballot signature battle draws judge’s ire” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — “I’m being asked to rewrite the election code of the state of Florida, one piece at a time,” U.S. District Judge Walker groused during a five-hour hearing about the state’s process for handling mismatched signatures on mail-in and provisional ballots. Voters whose mail-in ballots come in after the deadline — or who cast provisional ballots on Election Day — aren’t afforded the same opportunity. And county canvassing boards, which decide whether ballots are legitimate, handle the mismatched signatures differently, lawyers for Nelson and the Democrats argued during the hearing. It was not immediately clear when Walker will rule on the ballot-signature issue … 45 of Florida’s 67 counties have rejected 3,668 ballots due to mismatched signatures, according to Maria Matthews, director of the state Division of Elections.

Federal judge considers more time for voters with rejected ballots” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — A federal judge likely will not toss the state’s policy on signatures used to validate mail-in and provisional ballots, but he was also uneasy about offering at least 4,000 people another month to defend votes rejected by county canvassing boards. Walker held short of ruling from the bench after a four-hour hearing in Tallahassee federal court. Lawyers for Nelson’s campaign and the Florida Democratic Party Executive Committee asked Walker to delay the state’s ongoing recount by a month to allow thousands of voters to plead cases before county canvassing boards. But lawyers for Scott believe the Legislature should address the state’s signature verification policy next year.

Judge schedules hearing on Caldwell’s challenge in tight Ag Commissioner race” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – A state judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on former Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell‘s lawsuit claiming possible illegal conduct in Broward County’s vote-counting process. Caldwell declared victory late on election night, but Democrat Nikki Fried took the lead two days later as votes in Broward and Palm Beach counties still were being counted. She leads in the unofficial results by 5,326 votes, or .06 percent, as a machine recount is continuing. Caldwell sued on Nov. 9 and filed an amended complaint on Nov. 11 alleging past misconduct by Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

Federal prosecutors reviewing altered election documents tied to Florida Democrats” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Florida Department of State last week asked federal prosecutors to investigate dates that were changed on official state election documents, the first voting “irregularities” it has flagged in the wake of the 2018 elections. The concerns, which the department says can be tied to the Florida Democratic Party, center around date changes on forms used to fix vote-by-mail ballots sent with incorrect or missing information. Known as “cure affidavits,” those documents used to fix mail ballots were due no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 5 — the day before the election. But affidavits released on Tuesday by the DOS show that documents from four different counties said the ballots could be returned by 5 p.m. on Thursday, which is not accurate. DOS officials have repeatedly told the media that the monitors they sent to Broward County saw no election fraud. It wasn’t until Tuesday that the office revealed publicly that it had turned over information to federal prosecutors. The information was sent on Nov. 9 by Bradley McVay, DOS’ interim general counsel, who asked that the altered dates be investigated.

Marco Rubio dials down tone in official comment on Florida recount” via Florida Politics — “I’m not against the recount. A recount is mandated by law and should happen. The recount should happen, and every legal vote should be counted, but what we should not see happen here is that somehow lawyers are able to find federal judges that change Florida election law after the election, go in and basically order the state of Florida to ignore its own laws,” Rubio said. “You cannot change the rules of the game after the game in order to win, because that would be stealing an election and that would be unacceptable.” In terms of tone, however, Rubio shows a moderation in his official persona that he has not exhibited in media appearances, including television and social media.

Marco Rubio is toning down the rhetoric over Florida recount, just a bit.

Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi puts ‘bully’ back in bully pulpit” via Florida Politics — She basically has turned the job into a partisan political weapon with her demand for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate alleged and unspecified “voter fraud” in South Florida. Bondi said in a letter on Sunday she was “deeply troubled” by the “announcement” allegedly from FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen “that you will not pursue any investigation or inquiry into clearly documented irregularities in the conduct of election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the 2018 election.” Swearingen shot back that he was “deeply troubled” by Bondi’s letter because, he wrote, “I have made no such announcement.” The implication of Bondi’s original letter … Without saying it out loud, what she really meant is that buster, Scott better win this election, and it’s Swearingen’s fault if Nelson finds enough votes in the recount to change the result. That, folks, is what weaponizing the Attorney General office looks like. It is putting the “bully” in Bondi’s bully pulpit.

Tweet, tweet:


Last week she worked for a Democratic campaign. Now she’s applying at Costco.” via Molly Redden of HuffPost — The boom-and-bust nature of campaign life is part of what makes a career in politics so unsustainable for so many. At the end of each midterm election, up to 20,000 people suddenly lose their jobs. The luckiest staff members are hired as congressional aides or legislative assistants. Consultants return to their corporate and advocacy clients. And the rest scramble to figure out what’s next. No good data exist to measure the effect of these boom-and-bust cycles on the efficacy of campaigns themselves. Nearly everyone acknowledges that the job is not sustainable for the workers; it’s why campaign work is so often described as “a young person’s game.” But, over the course of the election, many campaign workers argued that the inability to retain people of talent and experience leads to weaker campaigns. People of color, who tend to lack the safety net of their white peers, say the lack of stability is also part of why campaigns are so homogenous.


Citizens avoids major hit in Michael” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Citizens had 3,189 claims as of Wednesday from the monster storm, and estimates that it will end up with $142 million in paid losses and expenses. Damage to mobile homes has accounted for more than half of Citizens’ claims. The Citizens claims and estimated losses are only a fraction of the overall tab for insurers after Michael. As of Friday, insurers had reported 119,160 claims from the storm with total estimated insured losses of $2.94 billion, according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation website. Claims numbers and estimated losses have steadily increased. As an example, they were at 115,423 claims and $2.6 billion in estimated losses as of Nov. 6. The Citizens numbers offer a rough glimpse, however, of how most homes in some of the counties sustained damage. Citizens had 378 personal-lines policies in Gulf County as of Sept. 30 and had 343 claims from the county. Similarly, Citizens had 257 personal-lines policies in Jackson County and had 216 claims. Citizens’ business is most heavily concentrated in South Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Parkland shooter’s internet history riddled with searches about other mass shootings” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida — Nikolas Cruz researched countless mass shootings and weapons, frequented porn sites and read about homicidal urges before killing 17 people on Feb. 14, according to a presentation during a Parkland Commission meeting. Sprinkled throughout these troubling searches were inquiries typical for a teen boy, such as how to get a girlfriend or how to not be afraid of girls. At one point, Cruz searched for a therapist to cure his homicidal thoughts. “The only thing I can really get from it is he was obsessed with [committing a school shooting] and it was playing over and over in his head,” said commissioner Melissa Larkin-Skinner, a licensed mental health counselor. “Maybe some part of him wanted help.” Commissioners have until Jan. 1 to compile a report to Florida lawmakers that likely will shape school safety, mental health and other policies for next school year.

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz’s internet browsing history was like any other teenager, with some notable exceptions.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting with topics including testimony by Broward County schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and possibly former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Pam Bondi, prosecutor in ‘Stand Your Ground’ clash” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Bondi is seeking to block Miami-Dade County’s top prosecutor from getting involved in a Florida Supreme Court case and supporting arguments that a 2017 change to the “stand your ground” self-defense law is unconstitutional. Bondi’s office filed a document opposing a request by Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to take a friend-of-the-court position in the case. Fernandez Rundle has asked the court for permission to “adopt” the position of the League of Prosecutors-Florida, which argues the controversial 2017 change is unconstitutional. The newly filed document said Bondi is Florida’s chief legal officer and that she — and not the state attorney — represents the state in such cases. It said granting Fernandez Rundle’s request would “serve no purpose other than to circumvent Florida law, which grants the attorney general, not the state attorney, the authority to speak for the state in its appellate courts.”

Happening today — The Capital Tiger Bay Club will discuss the 2018 elections, with panelists expected to include Republican strategist David Johnson, Democratic strategist Steve Schale and Brian Burgess, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capitolist, 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.


Matt Gaetz, Democratic ally back veterans’ marijuana bills” via Colin Young of the News Service of Florida — Gaetz joined with U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts to prepare three bills that seek to learn more about how veterans use cannabis, to prepare better medical-marijuana education for providers and to protect the benefits of veterans who use marijuana. “Our veterans are seeking alternative options to opioids and we should be supporting their desires not to be addicted to painkillers. Let’s not kid ourselves, people are using marijuana — including our veterans,” Moulton said. “We have an obligation to regulate it and make it as safe as possible.” One bill, according to Moulton’s office, would amend and codify an existing VA policy to protect a veterans’ benefits if they discuss their medical use of marijuana with providers. Moulton’s office said: “not all health care providers respond in a standard way and veterans still fear and experience repercussions of some kind.”

Massachusetts Democrat Seth Moulton is teaming up with Matt Gaetz to back a veterans’  medical cannabis bill.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be on Capitol Hill to testify about his concerns over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s potential negative economic impact on Florida’s produce industry. Putnam will be before the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.


The real Florida recount fraud” via The New York Times editorial board — In Florida, no one has offered evidence of widespread election fraud, and the recount is mandated by law and was ordered by the Florida secretary of state. Yet Scott said of Nelson, the three-term Democratic Senator he’s hoping to unseat, “Senator Nelson is clearly trying to commit fraud to try to win this election.” Sowing doubt in the integrity of the recount is part of a Republican strategy that involves lawyers and operatives on the ground, much like what happened in the 2000 election, and a preview of what’s likely to happen leading up to the 2020 election. For all the fact-free doomsaying about rigged elections, democracy did remarkably well last week. For that we do have evidence: National turnout was the highest ever for midterm contests in the modern era, states made the franchise more accessible for millions and gerrymandering took a hit at the ballot box.


Chris Hudson moves up to AFP national post” via Florida Politics — Hudson, state director for Americans For Prosperity-Florida, will now become AFP’s vice president of State Government Affairs. Hudson has been the group’s top Florida operative since 2014. Skylar Zander, AFP-FL’s deputy director and chief legislative architect will become interim state director. Hudson’s new role will be to drive national policy priorities “across the 36 states where AFP has had a permanent presence” according to a statement released Wednesday. Americans For Prosperity is the key political arm of the Koch Network; AFP-FL is its signature grassroots organization. “I’ve learned a lot over my four years with the Florida Chapter,” Hudson says. “I’m looking forward to sharing those lessons with our teams across the country to help drive significant policy victories that promote the principles of a free and open society by reducing barriers, so all Americans can achieve their highest potential.”

Movin’ on up: Chris Hudson takes on a new national role at AFP.

Personnel note: Hannah Kaplan Plante joins Step Up for Students — She’ll be the organization’s new Manager of Legislative Affairs. Kaplan Plante has over six years of legislative and political experience, both in the private sector and in government. She graduated Florida State University with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs, while working as an intern for Sen. Bill Montford’s re-election. She continued to work in his Senate office as an executive assistant. She later got her master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy at FSU. Kaplan Plante worked for the Farm to School Program at the Florida Department of Agriculture before moving to the Florida Chamber of Commerce. There, she worked on both the political team and governmental affairs team. Most recently, she was a member of the governmental affairs team, working on a variety of issues including education.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Keith Arnold, Brett Bacot, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Bruno Home Performance, PCE Systems, The Simmons Group Consulting,

Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs, Kaitlyn Gardner, Natalie King, Ronald Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA), United Way Suncoast

Megan Fay, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Jeff Greene, Jeff Greene & Associates: Green Roads West

Hannah Plante: Step Up for Students

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA)

— ALOE —

Disney parks chief talks Guardians coaster, Skyliner gondolas at IAAPA” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Bob Chapek, the head of Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products division, made several announcements about upcoming additions to Walt Disney World at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Chapek emphasized how Disney parks are challenging their own rules to avoid becoming complacent, including on ride technology. The Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster currently under construction at Epcot was cited as one example, with Chapek calling it a “storytelling coaster,” where the ride vehicles will not always face forward but instead focus on action happening around the track. “You’ll be fully immersed in the story from the minute you launch,” Chapek said. The other announcement was narrowing the opening window for the Disney Skyliner system. Now set to open in fall 2019, this gondola system will offer guests at four Disney hotels (Caribbean Beach, Art of Animation, Pop Century and the under-construction Riviera) another transportation option to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. “Riding the Disney Skyliner will offer guests a whole new way to experience Walt Disney World with unique vistas only available from the sky,” Chapek said. “You’ll definitely want to have your cameras out.”

Grab your cameras: The Disney Skyline promises spectacular views of Epcot.

Legoland Florida shares more news about new rides coming this spring” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — It was a closer look into the 7-year-old theme park’s plans for the expansion, which officials have said represents Legoland Florida’s biggest investment since its debut. The announcement, which also included confirmation of a previously revealed on-site hotel, came at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions show being held in Orlando. Lego Movie World will feature three major rides: Unikitty’s Disco Drop, Masters of Flight and Battle of Bricksburg. The Disco Drop is a swift drop tower based upon the ruler of the fictitious Lego kingdom that elevates passengers before jolting them with a swift drop, spins and other movements. Battle of Bricksburg is a water ride that where riders will protect the Lego world from alien invaders using water cannons. Masters of Flight will place riders in a triple-decker couch as it soars through scenes based on The Lego Movie’s world. “We are lucky to have a strong intellectual property,” said Keith Carr, project director for Merlin Magic Making. “It helps us as we create the storylines.”

Happy birthday to Wayne BertschTrimmel Gomes, the Chairman Evan PowerRodney Barreto (who I should have named a winner in my post-election list of Winners and Losers for all the money he raised for the Ron DeSantis campaign), and Max Steele.

Last Call for 11.14.18 — 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

As of Last Call’s deadline, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker was still questioning attorneys in Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s lawsuit on ballots with mismatched signatures.

Nelson and the Democratic Executive Committee Of Florida want the deadline extended so voters have more time to fix invalidated provisional and mail-in ballots by proving they voted.

The Democrats’ attorneys are seeking a court order from Walker, telling the state to then accept those late ballots that are “cured.”

A Wednesday hearing expected to last two hours was at four hours and counting by late afternoon, with an increasingly cantankerous Walker throwing off a series of bon mots.

He first corrected his earlier comparison to election-related lawsuits increasing like Tribbles, a reference to an episode of the original “Star Trek” in which small alien creatures reproduce like rabbits.

“I should have said the lawyers are multiplying like Tribbles,” he said.

Later, he got testy when one lawyer tried to make a point that fatigue in election officials results in errors being made: “I can assure you the most tired person in the room is me, let’s move on.”

He referred to parts of Florida election law reminding him of his grandfather’s expression, “like hunting squirrels with a bazooka.”

And after a suggestion that signatures made electronically are the same as those made with pen on paper, he threw up his hands: “I feel like my head’s being shoved into a cow patty.”

Evening Reads

‘Stop lying’ about Florida recounts, Democrats warn Donald Trump” via David Smith of The Guardian

Federal prosecutors reviewing altered election documents tied to Florida Democrats” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Bill Nelson needs ‘royal flush’ in court cases, but will likely come up short” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Rick Scott to recuse himself from certifying results” via Gray Rohrer and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

Nelson sues over Florida hurricane victims fax, email voting” via Samantha Gross of the Times/Herald

Marco Rubio dials down tone in official comment on Florida recount” via Florida Politics

Third-party gubernatorial candidate rejects ‘spoiler’ argument” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Judge Mark Walker is at the center of Florida recount legal fight” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald

Brenda Snipes says invalid ballots ‘were never counted,’ contradicting her attorney” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald

Palm Beach County ‘in prayer mode’ to finish Senate recount by state deadline” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald

What happens if elections chiefs can’t make recount deadline? State says keep counting.” via Jenny Staletovich of the Tampa Bay Times

How the Collective PAC almost brought it home for Andrew Gillum” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

David Simmons selected Senate President Pro Tempore” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Chris Hudson moves up to AFP national post” via Florida Politics

More than 30 people didn’t report disturbing behavior by Nikolas Cruz before Parkland massacre” via David Fleshler and Brittany Wallman of the Sun-Sentinel

Quote of the Day

Andrew Gillum got more votes than any other Democrat in statewide history … Presidential-level support. The Democrats did all we think they could’ve done.” — Quentin James, founder of Collective PAC, dedicated to getting African-Americans elected.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

Florida Internet & Television (FiTV) will hold its second annual 2018 Florida Internet & Television Conference, known as “FITConFL.” That’s at 8 a.m., Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, 14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue a four-day meeting in Broward County. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works on issues related to military bases in the state, will meet in Brevard County. That’s at 9 a.m., Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach, 3435 North Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach.

The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Retirement Plan Committee will hold a conference call at 10 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-574-0995. Code: 833028115.

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

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, will take part in an event in which the Fraternal Order of Police and the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation will dedicate 53 automated external defibrillators to local police departments. That’s at 11 a.m., Fraternal Order of Police lodge, 5530 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville.

Capital Tiger Bay Club will host a discussion about the 2018 elections, with panelists expected to include Republican strategist David Johnson, Democratic strategist Steve Schale and Brian Burgess, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capitolist. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.

County elections officials face a 3 p.m. deadline to submit results of machine recounts from the Nov. 6 general election. Those recounts would be required in races where candidates were separated by 0.5 percent or less in preliminary returns.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be on Capitol Hill to testify about his concerns over the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s potential negative economic impact on Florida’s produce industry. That’s at the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.

It’s time for the Democratic Donor Alliance to show Stephen Bittel the door

It has been a year since former Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel resigned his post due to allegations over bizarre sexual behavior.

With a half-dozen FDP employees and consultants describing him as misogynistic and demeaning and sharing sordid stories about him having fake breasts on his desk and asking employees about their sexual proclivities. The scene was ugly, and it came during the peak of the still-roaring #MeToo movement.

The creep show that is Stephen Bittel is still roaring, too.

As reported by the Miami New Times, a new complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court alleges the real estate billionaire sexually harassed a female employee by describing his sexual partners’ pubic hair and his pornography preferences, offering to take her on a lingerie shopping spree.

To top it all off, there was some unwelcome touching: He grabbed and fondled her feet on his private jet.

Filing the disturbing 27-page lawsuit is 34-year-old Andrea Molina, who worked for five years as director of acquisitions for Bittel’s real estate firm, Terranova. Combined with the FDP staffers who came forward last year, seven people have accused Bittel of misogynistic and demeaning behavior.

To be clear, Stephen Bittel has the right to his day in court. He has a right to be heard and, if falsely accused, the right to public vindication.

But when there’s this much smoke — and there’s about as much smoke here as there is in Southern California right now — it is a fair presumption that there’s at least a little fire.

With that, how can an organization with such a political and (now) public face as the Donor Alliance continue to allow Bittel to be a leading part of its team?

How can these good people — and this is not the place to name names — continue to affiliate and associate with a man who was so publicly ousted from the Chair of his own party and is now facing more ugly accusations?

With his name and his money being associated with several related political committees, nobody can easily claim he is not part of that group.

This is the post-Harvey Weinstein era. The post-Bill Cosby era. The post-Kevin Spacey era. The post-Louis CK era. If 2017 could be boiled down to two words: “Time’s Up.”

And when it comes to the Democratic Donor Alliance’s relationship with Bittel, there’s only one move. Tell him his time is up and to not let the door hit ‘ im on the way out.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.14.18

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

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

Good tidings came early.

This year’s social media-based benefit for Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries — “Recount The Turkeys” — raised more than $17,000 and 850 turkeys for needy families.

It’s the fourth year in a row former House Speaker Will Weatherford has partnered with Florida Politics to help raise money for the charity during the holiday season.

Several Florida politicians answered Weatherford’s call to make sure no family goes without a holiday meal this Thanksgiving. Among those donating were Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Lauren Book, former Speakers Richard Corcoran, Steve Crisafulli, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul, John Thrasher, and Tom Feeney, House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

#RecountTheTurkeys was a resounding, bipartisan success.

“Once again, it’s nice to see that some things aren’t partisan,” Weatherford said. “I am glad that the season of Thanksgiving can still bring people of different backgrounds and politics together to help those in need …

“God bless Metropolitan Ministries and all the great work they do!”

“This has been the quickest, most efficient and most impactful Florida recount,” added Tim Marks, President/CEO of Metropolitan Ministries. “Thank you Peter, Will and your network of leaders for helping us #BringHope for at-risk families.”   

P.S. Happy 39th birthday to our great friend, Speaker Weatherford.


@ATompkins: One thing that is missing in the whole @CNN and @Acosta press credential story. The Secret Service has narrow and specific criteria for denying credentials. And it has nothing to do with rudeness and microphones. I believe CNN will/should win this lawsuit hands down.

—@realDonaldTrump: When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to “find” enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!

@MaggieNYT: Ted OLSON, who Trump praised in one of his Fla tweets and who Trump tried repeatedly to hire for his own personal legal team (Olson said no), is repping CNN in suit against the White House re Acosta hard pass.

@MarcoRubio: Incompetent law breaking election officials lead to chance for lawyers to steal an election Dem lawyers aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted. They’re here to get as many votes for their client as possible counted & get as many votes for opponent as possible thrown out

@MDixon55: We have reached the “is an x in an oval a vote” point in #FloridaRecount

@ElizabethRKoh: Re: Bay County ballots, elections supervisor Mark Andersen tells me he still intends to include emailed/faxed ballots in his count to the state, though decision is up to the county canvassing board, meeting Thursday 4 p.m. Board includes him, a judge and county commission chair.

@Fineout: On a conference call with reporters set up by Scott campaign — U.S. Rep. @FrancisRooney said it sounds “pretty ridiculous” that the Bay County elections supervisor allowed people to email their ballots

— @PatriciaMazzei: No one warns you in journalism school that one day you will be on the floor of a county elections office, scarfing down Trinidadian curry while a recount is underway, TV cameras are on and lawyers are running around

@APStyleBook: We don’t say “preheat the oven to 350 F.” Instead, we just heat the oven. You’re getting it up to temperature, so you’re heating it. This applies whether you’re making turkey for a crowd or just throwing in a frozen pizza. We won’t judge.

@MadisonSocial: Executive decision was made today- March 9 is the 3rd Tallahassee Wine Mixer and the $35 unlimited wine sampling ticket will include a shirt. Also, VIP tickets this year will include one-hour early entry and unlimited charcuterie


Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 4; Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 6; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 6; Thanksgiving — 8; Black Friday — 9; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 13; Partial government shutdown — 23; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 28; 116th Congress convenes — 50; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 75; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 90; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 111; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 115; Iowa Caucuses — 446; 2020 General Election — 720.


Florida recount update: Machine recounts underway. Some counties might not finish in time” via John McCarthy of the Tallahassee Democrat — Saturday’s preliminary totals showed Gov. Rick Scott leading the incumbent Democrat by 0.15 percentage points in the Senate race, Republican former congressman Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 points in the governor’s race and Democrat Nikki Fried in front of Republican Matt Caldwell by 0.06 percentage points in the agriculture commission race. By law, the recounts must be completed by 3 p.m. Thursday. But as of Tuesday, it was unclear whether all of the state’s 67 counties would meet the deadline. In Miami-Dade, the state’s largest county, election officials began doing the prep work of separating the first page of ballots — which contains all of the contested races — last week when it became obvious the recounts would be coming. That allowed the county to start the recount Saturday.

Employees of the Broward County Supervisor of Election’s office in Lauderhill count ballots. (Image via Getty Images)

Early recount total show little change” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Recounts wrapping up in small and mid-sized counties are showing few changes to initial results in the races for Governor, U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner. But bigger counties still have until Thursday afternoon to complete the state-mandated recount process. In Leon County, where elections officials completed running more than 140,000 ballots through tabulating machines, the candidates in the major statewide races all lost several votes. Recounted numbers in Citrus County found two additional votes each for DeSantis, Scott and Caldwell. In Alachua County, Nelson’s lead over Scott among county voters grew by 26 votes. Gillum, down by 33,684 in the unofficial statewide numbers, gained 12 votes in Alachua County in his race with DeSantis. And Fried, up 5,326 votes statewide on Saturday, gained 26 votes in Alachua County.

Tallahassee becomes ground zero for recount battles in federal court” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — As of Tuesday morning, there were three legal actions filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District. By the end of the day, a flurry of other cases was on the docket, bringing the total to seven. And all of them are landing on the desk of Chief Judge Mark Walker, who has ruled against Gov. Scott several times in astringent, colorfully worded opinions. The legal actions deal with a range of legal issues from mismatched signatures to vote-by-mail deadlines to whether Gov. Scott — a candidate for U.S. Senate — should recuse himself from the recount process. Four of the suits were brought by Nelson or entities acting on his behalf, including the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and VoteVets, a political committee that represents military veterans.

’Magic words,’ consistency rule targeted in Bill Nelson’s recount lawsuit” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The federal lawsuit, filed in Tallahassee, takes aim at two specific standards — one called the “magic words” requirement and the other called the “consistency” requirement — and says they violate First Amendment free speech rights and 14th Amendment equality protections. Nelson’s suit says the rules passed by the Florida Department of State unconstitutionally disenfranchise voters and aren’t consistent or fair. For instance, voters who mistakenly circle their choice of candidate but then bubble in their choices in other races won’t have their vote counted. But voters who mistakenly circle their candidate of choice and either don’t vote in other races or fail to bubble-in their choice in those other races will have their votes counted. The so-called “consistency” requirement unfairly disadvantages one class of voters over another, the suit says.

Nelson sues for extension; Chuck Schumer calls for Rick Scott recusal” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — With a Thursday deadline looming, Nelson’s campaign has filed a federal lawsuit to extend the unevenly conducted statewide recount of his re-election race. The lawsuit seeks to give elections officials in each of Florida’s 67 counties adequate time to finish “a legally mandated and accurate recount,” according to the senator’s campaign. A hearing could be held as early as Wednesday. “Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we should all be able to agree that the goal here is to have a complete and accurate count of all lawful ballots and to ensure that count is done accurately,” Marc Elias, the lead lawyer for Nelson’s recount efforts, told reporters on a conference call. Nelson’s campaign filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee only hours after he joined Senate Democratic Leader Schumer at a Capitol Hill news conference and demanded Scott withdraw from any oversight role of the state’s election recount.

Schumer sees Nelson victory after recount” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO Florida — Schumer and Nelson laid into Scott for making claims of “voter fraud” and charging that Democrats want to “steal” the election from him. And Schumer was characteristically sunny about Nelson’s prospects despite being behind by a significant margin before the recount. “Republicans know that if this recount is conducted fairly and thoroughly that Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance of being reelected,” Schumer said. “If this is done fair and square, we believe Sen. Nelson has an excellent chance, a much greater than half chance of being reelected.” The two senators took no questions, but a Democratic official said that they believe a number of ballots discarded by machines in Democratic areas will help boost Nelson in a hand recount.

Chuck Schumer and Bill Nelson exude confidence over the Florida Senate race recount. Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump tries to crank up the pressure: ‘When will Nelson concede in Florida?’” via Rebecca Morin of POLITICO Florida — “When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” the president tweeted. The president, without evidence, has repeatedly accused Democrats of “election theft” in that Senate race and has said the election should be called in Scott’s favor.

Scott’s team has no interest in seeing recount deadlines extended” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Speaking for Scott, Republican U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney insisted the recounts must proceed by law, a reference to the fact that Florida law requires the machine recounts to complete by Thursday, and for completion of the anticipated hand recount for the U.S. Senate race by Sunday. He was backed by Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, one of the lawyers on the Scott campaign, who said that everything Scott’s campaign is doing in court is seeking to make sure current laws are followed. “I think it would be absolutely outrageous that once again in this country that we would ignore law,” Rooney said.

Scott won’t commit to certifying recount results if he loses, top adviser says” via Aaron Rupar of Vox — Scott’s senior campaign adviser, Brad Todd, repeatedly refused to commit to certifying the results of Florida’s U.S. Senate election, during CNN interviews, if Scott ends up losing in a recount to Nelson. “You talk about having to make a decision — the governor has a decision to make,” CNN’s Chris Cuomo said to Todd. “Is he going to do that [certify the results] or will he recuse himself, because of his own conflict in this?” “The governor respects the process. He respects the law in Florida,” Todd said. “Even if he loses?” Cuomo interjected. “He’s not going to lose unless they steal it from him in court,” Todd replied. “The governor is going to be the senator.”

Scott’s campaign sues Hillsborough County supervisor of elections” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections is not allowing elections observers to stand in the physical room where recounts are taking place, Gov. Scott alleged in a lawsuit. Instead, they’re being forced to watch the recounts from an adjacent room through a transparent window. Scott’s lawyers — in conjunction with lawyers from the National Republican Senatorial Committee — say that’s a violation of state law. Under Rule 1S-2.031(2) and (3) of the Florida Administrative Code, the lawsuit alleges, representatives for the Scott campaign — as well as the campaigns of any of the other candidates in races that are undergoing recounts — should be allowed into the room where any recount is taking place. If a judge were to find in favor of Scott, the SOE would be forced to allow campaign representatives into the same room as the recount.

Rick Scott keeps shooting off recount lawsuits.

Amid recounts, Scott claims victory, sets trip to Washington” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — Scott isn’t waiting to declare victory and “make Washington work” — a key slogan and platform of his campaign. “We won the election,’’ Scott told The Washington Post. “I’m looking forward to being up there. … I’ve got a very specific agenda I’ve put out of what I want to accomplish.’’ Part of Scott’s visit will include orientation for freshman members of Congress, but so far there’s no word on which committees he’ll sit on. Meanwhile, he and his team are continuing their campaign to get Nelson to throw in the towel.


Matt Caldwell doesn’t want to win recount by ‘legal loophole’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Caldwell says he thought it was mathematically impossible for him to lose the Florida Agriculture Commissioner race when he declared victory a week ago. He was up 40,000 votes and believed about five Broward County precincts and a maximum 33,000 votes remained untabulated. Now he’s 5,326 votes behind Democrat Nikki Fried and wants to know how that happened. “I think voters deserve a straight answer,” Caldwell said. “Where did 80,000 votes come from?” For Caldwell, though, getting a full accounting of all votes will be essential even if he ends up losing the election. “I have zero interest in winning this election on a legal loophole,” he said.

Jim Bonfiglio recount lawsuit ‘removed’ to federal court” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the Palm Beach County canvassing board, and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Bucher were listed as defendants. Detzner now argues the lawsuit belongs in federal court, filing what’s known as a “notice of removal.” The Secretary of State noted Bonfiglio’s concerns that the Palm Beach County may not complete a recount of the HD 89 race before the deadline under Florida law. Bonfiglio’s arguments come down to claims that his rights under due process and equal protection provisions in the U.S. Constitution are being violated. Thus, Detzner argues, a federal court is the proper venue for the case. In his lawsuit, Bonfiglio highlighted comments by Bucher that Palm Beach may not be able to complete all of its recounts by the deadline of Thursday at 3 p.m. The Democrat demanded that deadline is extended.

Florida’s effort to find noncitizen voters had slim results” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — The results of the Scott administration’s push did not come anywhere close to finding that many noncitizens. Spurred on directly by Gov. Scott shortly after he was elected governor, the state began looking to see if there were ineligible voters on the rolls. An initial list that was not widely distributed turned up nearly 182,000 people, but state officials called the list obsolete and did not use it. State officials instead whittled it down and gave the names of more than 2,600 voters to local election supervisors who were asked to check them. Voters who did not respond to supervisors could ultimately be removed from the rolls. After checking the names against the federal database, the Florida Department of State in September 2012 identified 207 ineligible voters.

As recount politics heat up, two election officials are the targets of online harassment” via Craig Timberg and Beth Reinhard of The Washington Post — Several pro-Trump Facebook pages and one Twitter account posted the home address and phone number of the Broward County election supervisor who has been the target of blistering criticism from the president and other Republicans amid highly politicized vote recounts. Posting the home address of Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes — a tactic called “doxing” — often is a step toward harassment of people in the public spotlight and is prohibited by Facebook, Twitter and most other online platforms. Facebook confirmed it had removed personal information about Snipes after the incident was reported to the company. It also confirmed a similar incident involving Palm Beach County’s Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, whose home address and phone number also were posted on a Facebook page.

In the chaos of recounts, Brenda Snipes gets doxxed, threatened.

’It is time to move on’: Brenda Snipes talks about leaving elections post in Broward” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — “I think I have served the purpose that I came for, which is to provide a credible election product for Broward,” she said. The decision isn’t final, she said, because she still has to talk to her family about it. Snipes’ announcement came after a reporter asked her response to a tweet from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who appointed Snipes, calling for her removal from office. “There is no question that Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes failed to comply with Florida law on multiple counts, undermining Floridians’ confidence in our electoral process,” Bush tweeted.

Assignment editors —State Sen. Lori Berman, Rep. Bobby Powell, and FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo will hold a “Count Every Vote” news conference to discuss the latest efforts of the recount in Palm Beach County, 11:15 a.m., Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office, 240 S Military Trail, West Palm Beach.

Assignment editors — The Win Justice coalition and elected officials will join voters outside of the Broward Supervisor of Elections office to tell stories of disenfranchisement, unreasonable signature rules, and misinformation that led to the inability to cast a ballot, 11:15 a.m., Broward Supervisor of Elections, 1501 NW. 40th Ave., Lauderhill.


Concentrated chaos

The Florida recount might be just the tip of the iceberg for bad news in Broward County.

Writes Michael Grunwald for POLITICO Magazine: “Once again, America’s eyes have turned to Broward County, Florida. And once again, America’s eyes are rolling.”

Among the area’s unique attributes: Perennial ballot office issues, the Parkland shooting and subsequent revelations of governmental inadequacy, a disproportionate share of political scandals and a resident by the name Roger Stone, currently a reported subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. 

Both Republican and Democratic protestors converged on the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office. (Image via WLRN)

No surprise: It was anticipated that Broward Supervisor of Elections Snipes might mess things up again. “In recent years, her office has sent out mail-in ballots that were missing a constitutional amendment, improperly opened ballots in private, and illegally destroyed ballots from Wasserman Schultz’s 2016 congressional race.”

Who’s to blame?: Maybe not the Democratic Party, per se, but a lack of political competition. “I’ve watched the Democrats in Broward get very comfortable with power,” a former Dem operative tells Grunwald. “There’s no accountability, because there’s no competition.”

Stranger than fiction: The Parkland tragedy and the Broward ballot snafu collided this week “when it came out that Nikolas Cruz, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas gunman, registered to vote while awaiting trial in the Broward County Jail.” “My editor would never let me get away with this stuff,” a local fiction writer tells Grunwald. “She’d say: ‘Come on. Crazy is OK, but this is too crazy.’”


Court backs Ryan Torrens in qualifying dispute” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a ruling in a lawsuit that contended Torrens had improperly qualified for the ballot. The lawsuit, filed by Torrens’ Democratic opponent for Attorney General, Sean Shaw, led to a messy end to their primary-election campaign. The lawsuit alleged that Torrens had written a $4,000 check in his wife’s name to his campaign account. Shaw argued that the check was improper and had been used in June to cover Torrens’ election-qualifying fee. Individual donors, other than candidates, are limited to contributing $3,000 in statewide races. Just days before the Aug. 28 primary, Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers agreed with Shaw and disqualified Torrens as a candidate. A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected Gievers’ decision and said in a footnote that the case was not moot because of “potential incidental consequences that may arise out of the trial court’s decision in this case.”

Too little, too late: Ryan Torrens gets a court victory.

Does Adam Hattersley victory signal inroads for Democrats in east Hillsborough?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — One of the biggest surprises of Election Day for local politicos was the election of Democrat Hattersley to state House District 59 over Republican Joe Wicker. “Particularly western Brandon has been moderating for years and the conservative base eroding,” said state Sen. Tom Lee who also once represented much of the area. Hattersley was an ideal candidate for such a district: a moderate, a nuclear submarine and Iraq deployment veteran, former Naval Academy instructor and small-business owner from the military enclave of Riverview. Moreover, the election “was a bloodbath for Republicans in Hillsborough County,” with a Democratic turnout boosted by numerous black and female Democrats on the ballot, Lee said.

Tampa’s mayoral race will be the next election pivot” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — So far the field includes a wealthy philanthropist, two Tampa City Council members, a former police chief, a former Hillsborough County Commissioner, a small business consultant, and a community activist. David Straz, whose namesake graces Tampa’s performing arts venue, is self-funding a campaign with coffers padded well beyond that of any other candidate. His spending could be a game changer in a race in which he would otherwise likely not be very competitive. Far behind in the money race is former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor. Castor has raised far more than any other candidate, except Straz. She’s in a crowded class of political superstars who, together, will give Straz a run for his money. Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen has raised just shy of $100,000 for his campaign. That haul includes a $1,000 contribution from former Tampa Mayor Sandra Freedman and another from her husband, Michael Freedman.


Ousted Democratic chairman allegedly propositioned female employee, called himself a ‘sapiosexual’” via Jessica Lipscomb of the Miami New Times — Stephen Bittel, a real estate billionaire who enjoyed a short reign as head of the Florida Democratic Party before resigning in disgrace last fall, sexually harassed a female employee by describing his sexual partners’ pubic hair, describing his pornography preferences, offering to take her shopping for lingerie, and touching her toes on his private jet, according to a new complaint filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The allegations were described in a disturbing 27-page lawsuit filed Friday by 34-year-old Andrea Molina, who worked for five years as director of acquisitions for Bittel’s real estate firm, Terranova. Bittel resigned last November following six former Florida Democratic Party staffers and consultants described him as misogynistic and demeaning. Though the women did not accuse Bittel of inappropriately touching or threatening them, they described a pattern of behavior that created a hostile environment for female employees. Molina’s lawsuit adds more credibility — and detail — to the women’s complaints.

A newly filed lawsuit against Steven Bittel helps support accusations that helped oust him as Florida Democratic Party leader.

Ron DeSantis names transition staff members” — The latest staff members were James Blair, director of policy; Chris Clark, director of recruiting; Drew Meiner, director of operations; Amanda Emmons, director of scheduling; Ben Gibson, general counsel; Dave Vasquez, press secretary; and Claire Whitehead, assistant to Casey DeSantis, the wife of DeSantis. Blair is a longtime adviser to House Speaker Richard Corcoran; Clark served as chief of staff to former Senate President Don Gaetz; Meiner is a former deputy campaign manager for operations for the DeSantis campaign; Emmons is a former staff assistant for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; Gibson is a former deputy general counsel to Gov. Scott; Vasquez is a former campaign manager for state Rep. Bob Cortes; and Whitehead is a former appointments analyst and regional representative for Scott.

Tweet, tweet:


Scott, Cabinet poised to take up FPL projects” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Scott and the Cabinet released an agenda for a Nov. 20 meeting that includes proposed “certification” of FPL’s plan for a 1,200-megawatt plant in Broward that has drawn opposition from the Sierra Club. Under state law, Scott and the Cabinet serve as a siting board that has authority to decide whether power-plant projects should move forward. Administrative Law Judge Cathy Sellers in July issued a 129-page recommended order that urged Scott and the Cabinet to approve certification for the natural-gas plant, which would replace two older generating units at what is known as FPL’s Lauderdale site in Dania Beach and Hollywood. The Sierra Club raised a series of objections, focusing heavily on greenhouse-gas emissions that would come from the new plant.

Jimmy Patronis’ office won’t weigh in on pot farm fire control — The State Fire Marshal’s Office, headed by CFO Patronis, this week declined to offer an opinion on whether to exempt a proposed “marijuana grow and processing facility” from the state’s fire code requirements. Dale E. Fey Jr., Fire Marshal at The North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District, had filed a petition for what’s known as a “declaratory statement,” used to get an interpretation of a statute, rule, or order from a state agency. Patronis’ office declined, saying it “lacks authority to issue the requested declaratory statement.” The property in question, in Immokalee, is registered to Oakes Farms Tomato Repack LLC, which wanted to claim an “agricultural exemption … to avoid complying with Fire and Life Safety codes.” A Department of Health spokesman has said it wasn’t “a proposed facility of any current MMTC (medical marijuana treatment center), but may be a location not yet submitted, or a location of a proposed MMTC applicant.” Oakes Farms did not respond to a request for comment.

Four people knew what happened in a room at a Florida psychiatric hospital. One is dead.” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Surveillance video captured what happened at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 12 in the moments before a developmentally disabled man broke his neck at a Panhandle psychiatric hospital: one staff member shoved the resident into his room. Two other employees quickly followed. They remained in the room for several minutes. It’s what happened inside Reginald Schroat’s bedroom that remains a mystery. After the three staffers left his room, the 40-year-old man summoned help, saying he could no longer move his legs. Surveillance cameras are not allowed inside living quarters at the state-operated Florida State Hospital. That means only four people know what happened inside Schroat’s room that day. And one of them is dead, the victim of a broken neck. “It’s wrong,” said Ethel Siegler, Schroat’s mother. “Something is very fishy there.”

Department of Health gets win in trauma case” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court sided with the Florida Department of Health in a long-running dispute about proposed rules for determining whether trauma centers should be allowed to open — though a law passed this year mostly made the issue moot. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned a 2017 decision by Administrative Law Judge Garnett Chisenhall, who tossed out the proposed rules. The case is part of years of legal battles involving the hospital industry and the Department of Health about opening trauma centers in various parts of the state. The actions focused heavily on a law that limited the number of trauma centers statewide to 44 and divvied up trauma centers among 19 regions.

Teresa Jacobs wraps up 16-year run with Orange County government” via Steven Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — A small stack of tissues close by, Jacobs dabbed tears from her eyes occasionally during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, her last after an eight-year run holding the mayoral gavel. The meeting, also the last for three other exiting board members, was filled mostly with routine county business, including two proclamations, some advisory board appointments, a briefing about other Florida governments pursuing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies for the opioid crisis and land-use and rezoning matters. Jacobs, who created a task force several years ago to address the deadly opioid crisis in Central Florida, suggested the board wait and let the next commission decide if the county should pick a legal fight with drugmakers. “As late as we are in the hour of my term, I feel like it would be inappropriate to make a decision about moving forward,” said Jacobs, who in August was elected Orange County School Board chair, a term that begins Nov. 19.

One last meeting: Teresa Jacobs ends her 16-year tenure in Orange County government. (Image via Orlando Sentinel)

Pot on the go: Central Florida’s first drive-thru dispensary opens in East Orlando” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — Curaleaf is bringing its second Central Florida dispensary to 775 N. Semoran Boulevard in a former Chase Bank location. It will be the second drive-thru dispensary in the state for Curaleaf. Customers can either phone in orders or place them online. “It’s there for ease of access,” said Vinit Patel, Curaleaf’s regional dispensary operations manager. “Of course, we want first-time customers to visit us inside.”

NASCAR offers to acquire the owner of Daytona International Speedway” via Patrick Thomas of The Wall Street Journal — The offer values the owner of the racetrack — home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious NASCAR race — at $1.85 billion. NASCAR offered to buy the outstanding shares of publicly held International Speedway Corp. for $42 per share, about 7.5 percent more than the shares’ closing price on Friday. The deal also would combine NASCAR and International Speedway into a privately held entity owned by the France family, which controls both companies. The offer by NASCAR is pending approval by shareholders who own most of the common shares of International Speedway that the France family doesn’t own.

Snubbed by Amazon: Lack of LGBTQ protections hurt Florida, group says” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Online retail giant Amazon won’t be setting up its new headquarters in any Florida city. Why? Equality Florida is pointing to the absence of statewide nondiscrimination policies for the LGBTQ community. Under current state law, it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in employment, housing and public accommodations. In a USA TODAY analysis of cities that didn’t make the cut, the publication faulted Miami’s transportation network, along with Florida’s lack of uniform LGBTQ protections. “The reality is the patchwork quilt of municipalities with full protections next to ones with none is unacceptable,” said Nadine Smith, who heads Equality Florida, the state’s leading LGBTQ rights organization.

Happening today — The Miami Herald will host a Florida Priorities Summit, which will include a series of panel discussions about solving policy issues facing the state. Among the participants will be state Rep. Holly Raschein of Key Largo, who will take part in a discussion about environmental issues, and state Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami and Florida College System Chancellor Madeline Pumariega, who will take part in a discussion about education issues, 8 a.m., University of Miami, Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.

Assignment editors — Six local Collier County leaders will be recognized at the Naples Chamber of Commerce 2018 Excellence in Industry Awards, with a ceremony where former state CFO Alex Sink will be the keynote speaker, 8 a.m., Silverspot Cinema — Naples, 9118 Strada Pl. #8205, Naples.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting in Broward County. Topics include a presentation on the cellphone content and internet searches of alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Happening today — The Florida Elections Commission begins a two-day meeting to interview candidates to become the commission’s executive director, 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, The Capitol.

Happening today — The Broward County legislative delegation will hold an organizational meeting ahead of the 2019 Session, 6 p.m., Broward College, Bailey Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.


For Trump, even disaster response is colored in red and blue” via Matt Viser and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — As California has convulsed in tragedy — a mass shooting and an outbreak of wildfires that included the deadliest in the state’s history — the president has not only offered little comfort; he has also heaped on criticism. He’s blamed the forest fires on “gross mismanagement,” threatened to withhold federal payments and instructed officials there: “Get Smart!” The disparity in the responses to red states and blue states is one that continues to exacerbate the nation’s partisan complexion, injected now even into natural disasters.

As Southern California burns, Donald Trump frames it in partisan terms.

Florida recount gives Pam Bondi a new shot at Trump’s inner circle” via Annie Karni and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Since the midterms, she has been serving as one of Trump’s point people on the ground there, remaining in frequent contact with the president and giving him personal updates. With a major cabinet shuffle underway — Trump is looking for replacements for both his Attorney General and his Homeland Security secretary — Bondi’s name is being talked about again. “He trusts her,” said Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser who lives in Florida. “They’ve always had an excellent personal rapport. She’s got a good TV presence; she’s very telegenic and that’s important to the president.”

Matt Gaetz photographed with Proud Boy in ‘Pepe the Frog’ shirt” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — The lawmaker, frequent Fox News guest and former InfoWars fan, represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District way up in the Florida Panhandle, which makes it all-the-more bizarre that Gaetz showed up at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office to videotape himself yelling at cops and investigating some random trucks outside the building. It was all part of what insiders have told Politico appears to be a coordinated Republican effort to, without evidence, accuse Democrats of election-rigging. But along the way, Gaetz — who is on Gov.-elect DeSantis’ “transition team” — stopped for a selfie with a dude in a Pepe T-shirt and Proud Boy hat.

The company you keep: Matt Gaetz is photographed with a member of Proud Boys, wearing a ‘Pepe the Frog’ T-shirt. (Image via Twitter)

Charlie Crist backs Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — “Pelosi‘s pledge to be a transitional leader for House Democrats, focused not only on our legislative agenda, but on ushering and mentoring our next generation of leaders to carry our efforts forward for the longer run, is also a prudent and wise approach,” Crist said. Crist, who won re-election last week, declined to support Pelosi’s bid for another run at the speakership during his campaign, though he didn’t rule it out. “Before that’s an issue, we have to win back the majority,” Crist told the Times in September.

Vern Buchanan lays out plans for lame duck session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — First, he wants to see a reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Trust, which expired at the end of September. Since the expiration of federal funding, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition estimates national parks have lost out on more than $107 million. Of course, Buchanan also wants to ensure funding for red tide research, some of which may end up happening in his district at Mote Marine Laboratory. Buchanan and Democratic Delegation co-chair Alcee Hastings backed a $100-million research package earlier this year that would fund red tide study. Buchanan sponsored the Thin Blue Line Act, aimed at increasing criminal penalties for cop killers. The bill passed the House but hasn’t passed the Senate yet. Buchanan would like the pill to get to the president’s desk before a new Congress gets sworn in. The same goes for the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act, another bill he worked on with Hastings.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch condemn latest Hamas attacks on Israel” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — With southern Israel under attack from rockets being shot from Palestinian controlled Gaza, the two South Florida congressional representatives who lead the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee expressed their support of that key American ally. Retiring U.S. Rep Ros-Lehtinen took to Twitter to weigh in on the attacks. “I support Israel’s right to defend herself from attacks by Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups,” she wrote. “These rockets are falling on innocent Israeli communities and I urge responsible nations to condemn these terrorists and help put a stop to their bloodshed.” She was joined by U.S. Rep. Deutch who has often allied himself with Ros-Lehtinen in recent years on Middle Eastern issues. Deutch also took to Twitter to blame Hamas for the latest round of attacks.

Ex-congresswoman’s hearing plan for February” via the News Service of Florida — A federal appeals court has rescheduled a hearing in a challenge filed by former Congresswoman Corrine Brown after she was convicted in a charity scam. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week scheduled the arguments on Feb. 1 in Atlanta, according to an online docket. The court had earlier indicated it would hear the case in December but scrapped that schedule. Brown, 72, filed an appeal after she was convicted last year on 18 felony counts and sentenced to five years in prison.

Happening today — Former Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will speak at a Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce breakfast event about “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis,” 7:15 a.m., Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.


Joe Henderson: Bay County voters show need for expanded options” via Florida Politics — It’s wonderful that while dealing with the catastrophe wrought by Hurricane Michael, more than 140 Bay County voters did their civic duty and found a way to cast a ballot in this election. And then, alas, their votes need to be disqualified. They were submitted by email or fax, and that’s not allowed under Florida law. Look, I get it — this was an extraordinary circumstance and Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Anderson was doing what he could to help those citizens regain a piece of normal by allowing them to vote. But the votes have to be cast within the rules, and those weren’t. I have a suggestion going forward, though: change the rules. At least seriously explore alternatives to traditional ballots. No, I’m not saying to let Fred from the hardware store send a fax or drop off a Post-it Note with some names scribbled on and call that his ballot. I am saying it’s time that Florida revisits the way elections are conducted and tabulated (yeah, I’m looking at you, Broward County) and get with the times.

Dan Backer: Americans spend more on Thanksgiving than election 2018” via Florida Politics — When it’s all said and done, America will spend roughly $3 billion on Thanksgiving dinners this year. That’s a whole lot of white meat and cranberry sauce — not to mention food comas. All in all, we’re talking well over $20 billion spent by advertisers and their customers in a sliver of late November. Election 2018 was even cheaper. The 2017-2018 election cycle — the most expensive midterm ever — cost a mere $5 billion over two years, a drop in the ocean compared to America’s Turkey Day shopping sprees. Is “money in politics” really so evil? Ads for Jeeps, Big Macs and Harry Potter spin-offs flood our airwaves to a much, much larger extent, with nary a peep from the Left. Only when the content has to do with border security or tax cuts — and not end-of-year lease deals — do liberal Democrats throw a hissy fit.

Sarah Catalanotto, Laura Hampson: After hurricane, air medical services was rural lifesaver” via Florida Politics — When Hurricane Michael ripped through our state last month as the third most powerful hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States, it left a trail of destruction and devastation in its path. Unlike Hurricane Irma last year, this storm hit predominantly rural areas, leaving already resource-strained communities in a state of even greater need. While the process of rebuilding will take months and many hands, we must recognize those who helped lessen the hurricane’s deadly impact and assist those who needed it most. Often overlooked, air medical providers and the flight crews who operate each aircraft are exactly those people. The bottom line is that air medical services are an increasingly important part of providing high-quality and timely access to health care for many rural residents, but the ultimate responsibility falls on every Floridian to recognize the benefits of these services and ensure that they remain available for the patients who need them.


Lauren Book honored at Glamour Magazine ‘Women of the Year’ ceremony” via Florida Politics — State Sen. Book was recognized “for her efforts to increase education and awareness of child sexual abuse prevention” at Glamour Magazine’s 2018 Women of the Year summit and awards ceremony in New York City. The Plantation Democrat on Monday received the L’Oreal Paris/Glamour “Heroes Among Us” Award, presented by actor/advocate Amber Heard, at the Monday ceremony … Book shared “her experience surviving childhood sexual abuse” and how it “propelled her to create positive change for others by working to prevent abuse and help survivors heal.” “It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to stand alongside these brave, powerful and outspoken women who have used their voices and actions to become agents of change,” Book said in a statement.

Activist and state Sen. Lauren Book is receiving even more accolades, this time named Glamour magazine Women of the Year.

Personnel move: ACLU of Florida announces new executive director — Dr. Micah Kubic, a “distinguished scholar, community leader and nonprofit administrator,” replaces retiring executive director Howard Simon, the organization said Tuesday. He starts in January. Kubic has been executive director of the ACLU’s Kansas affiliate for the last three years. “Under his tenure, the Kansas ACLU affiliate successfully led campaigns to protect voting rights, and advance criminal justice and racial justice reforms,” a news release said. “I am thrilled to come stand side by side with tens of thousands of ACLU supporters in Florida to do that work,” Kubic said. He also has been Legislative Director for the City Council in Kansas City, Missouri. Kubic has an undergraduate degree from George Washington University, and a master’s degree in political science and doctorate in Black Politics from Howard University.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Jim Naff, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: Modern Canna Science

Jonathan Kilman, Paul Lowell, Jon Yapo, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Insikt, Florida Chiropractic Association, Walgreen Company, Lyft, Starsky Robotics

Timothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: PCE Systems, The Simmons Group Consulting

Orlando Sentinel shakes up top: Nancy Meyer, Julie Anderson in; Avido Khahaifa out” via Scott Powers of Orlando rising — The Orlando Sentinel has moved former publisher Meyer back as publisher of the newspaper and also of the Sun-Sentinel, and named Anderson as editor-in-chief, ending the run of Avido Khahaifa in both positions. Meyer has been serving as general manager of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. She will now hold that post plus the publisher’s title at both papers. This is Meyer’s second time around as publisher of the Orlando Sentinel; she was the paper’s publisher in 2015-16, before being dismissed and replaced in that position by Khahaifa. She went to work for the USA Today Network, and Tribune Publishing brought her back in March, making her general manager for the company’s Florida papers. Anderson has been serving as editor-in-chief at the Sun Sentinel since March 1, and now will hold that post at both papers.

Strategic Digital Services launches new website — The company, which bills itself as “Florida’s leading digital agency for advocacy, corporations, and campaigns,” debuted the new site this week at “We think it’s pretty innovative and smart — like the team that makes up SDS,” said Joe Clements, who heads the firm with Matt Farrar. Aside from founding SDS, they created Bundl, an app that coordinates political contributions. And the dynamic duo also produces the “Of Record” podcast to “drill down on the latest in digital media.” An episode with Florida Politics publisher Schorsch is here.

— ALOE —

A look around IAAPA 2018” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — If you walk into the Orange County Convention Center this week, you’d forgiven for thinking you’re in an indoor theme park and arcade rather than a trade show. Tuesday was the first day the show floor was open at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) expo, with companies ranging from popcorn vendors to carnival ride operators to roller coaster designers shopping their wares to more than 35,000 professionals working in the theme park industry from over 100 countries. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment attracted the most attention as it hyped up 11 rides opening across its parks in 2019. Several of those are coming to Orlando — particularly the re-themed attractions in its Sesame Street area — but at the booth for Orlando-based Skyline Attractions, the focus is on the Tidal Twister roller coaster coming to SeaWorld San Diego next year.

You can be forgiven for mistaking this week’s IAAPA as an indoor theme park.

SeaWorld: adding more rides is ‘new strategy with a lot of energy to it’” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — As SeaWorld Entertainment’s monthslong upswing continues, the company is trying to position itself into 2019 by opening nine new attractions at its parks across the country. SeaWorld’s senior vice president of attractions Mike Denninger spoke about the company’s aims, while in the background workers constructed the full-scale buildings that will make up Sesame Street land at SeaWorld Orlando, another one of the new projects in the mix next year. “This is a new strategy with a lot of energy to it,” said,” Denninger said. He declined to say how much SeaWorld Entertainment is spending on the new rides other than it is significant and “one of our biggest years of investment.”

New film says the Miami Herald’s Gary Hart story transformed journalism. Did it really?” via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald — How much of this is your fault, Tom Fiedler? Like the 2014 book it’s based on, journalist Matt Bai’s “All The Truth Is Out,” the film argues that Fiedler and the Herald changed the ground rules of journalism in a fundamentally awful way by staking out the Capitol Hill home of former Colorado Sen. Hart to see if he was spending a cozy and wifeless weekend with a woman who would soon be identified as 29-year-old model and bit-part actress Donna Rice. “The finest political journalists of a generation surrendered all at once to the idea that politics had become another form of celebrity-driven entertainment,” wrote Bai, “while simultaneously disdaining the kind of reporting that such a thirst for entertainment made necessary.” Fiedler himself agrees that something changed in journalism and perhaps politics too after the Hart story. “My two cents is that our story was part of an evolution in journalism, not a revolution,” he said.

’Game of Thrones’ returns in April 2019 — here’s what we know so far about the final season” via Elahe Izadi of The Washington Post — How long will this season last? The final season will just be six episodes long, which also makes it the series’ shortest. Seasons 1 through 6 of the show each had 10 episodes, while Season 7 had seven episodes. But the final season will also have longer-than-normal episodes, clocking in at 80 minutes each. Source material, please? Just like Seasons 6 and 7, the show writers don’t have the benefit of drawing upon George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. What should we expect, plot-wise? Entertainment Weekly went on set and revealed some basic plot points: In a callback to the start of the series, we’ll see a procession into Winterfell, but it’ll be with Daenerys and her army as they all hunker down for the threat north of the Wall. Also, Sansa is not happy about the whole Jon-bending-the-knee-to-a-Targaryen thing. Also, we’re expecting to finally get that big faceoff with the Army of the Dead, and a throwdown that made “Battle of the Bastards,” according to actor Peter Dinklage, “look like a theme park.”

To watch the GoT teaser trailer, click on the image below:

Start of stone crab season in Cortez is worst in recent memory” via Tim Fanning of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Theories abound, but one thing is for sure: The current stone crab season is off to one of its worst starts in recent memory for the oldest active fishing village in Florida. It’s that bad. “There’s nothing. There’s no crabs around because it’s all dead,” said John Banyas, a fourth-generation fisherman from Cortez. “The latest from our 400-trap haul was only 4 pounds, a record low in these local waters,” said Banyas. To harvest the 1,200 pounds of stone crab for the seventh annual Cortez Stone Crab & Music Festival, which continues Sunday, Banyas had to go as far north as Crystal River and Hernando Beach. “Except for the blue crab, nothing you’re eating here this weekend is local, I can tell you that,” said Banyas, who is also the founder of the festival.

Happy birthday to the brilliant Karen Cyphers, Brittney Metzger, the super sharp Debbie Millner, and Victoria Elliott York.

Last Call for 11.13.18 — 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

Yet another federal lawsuit has been filed the aftermath of the 2018 midterm election in Florida.

Miami attorney Benedict P. Kuehne, on behalf of eight registered voters in Florida, filed suit late Tuesday afternoon against Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections officer; Division of Elections director Maria Matthews; and supervisors of elections in 15 counties.

The complaint? He wants the court to “compel Florida elections officials to comply with their required duties to preserve election ballot materials for a period of twenty-two (22) months following every federal election.”

“Florida elections officials are not preserving digital electronic ballot images for the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, which includes a federal election for U.S. Senate and U.S. congressional elections,” he wrote.

“Because of the scheduled statewide recounts commencing as soon as Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, the unpreserved digital ballot images are in danger of being obliterated and overwritten by the tabulation of recounted ballots.”

More to the point, some counties are saving the digital images, he says, but others aren’t and “such disparate treatment violates voters’ right to equal protection” under the U.S. Constitution.

The case has been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.

The Daily Business Review reported last week that Kuehne “was “monitoring (election) litigation for Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried.”

Kuehne’s an old pro at election-related litigation. He “represented Vice President Al Gore and the Gore/Lieberman Recount Committee as trial co-counsel in the 2000 election recount trial and appeals” to the Florida Supreme Court, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court, his bio says.

The filing is here.

Evening Reads

Judge orders recount extended for Palm Beach County to Nov. 20” via Alexandra Seltzer of the Palm Beach Post

FL election is on a fast and furious train of lawsuits and stakes are high. When will it end? At the U.S. Supreme Court?” via Diane Rado, CD Davidson-Hiers and Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

What’s happening in Florida is a nightmare. 2020 could be so much worse.” via Richard Hasen of Slate

‘Magic words,’ consistency rule targeted in Bill Nelson’s recount lawsuit” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Rick Scott goes Trump as Ron DeSantis goes ‘statesman’ in Florida recount” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Inside the Republican strategy to discredit the Florida recount” via Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times

FDLE commissioner to Pam Bondi: I’m ‘deeply troubled’ you think I wouldn’t investigate voter fraud” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

As recount politics heat up, two Florida election officials are the targets of online harassment” via Craig Timberg and Reth Reinhard of The Washington Post

Must-see video: Broward County elections officials block view as ballots are bundled and bagged in Davie voting center” via Jim Hoft of

Pop quiz: How to tell if a Florida vote should count” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida recount: What’s true and what’s false” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun Sentinel

Quote of the Day

“When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!” — President Donald Trump, tweeting Tuesday.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

State lobbyists face a Wednesday deadline for filing reports showing their compensation from July 1 through Sept. 30.

Former Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy will speak at a Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce breakfast event about “Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis.” That’s at 7:15 a.m., Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.

Former Florida CFO Alex Sink will be keynote speaker at the Excellence In Industry Awards, presented by The Naples Chamber, recognizing Collier County businesses and individuals that “exemplify innovation, economic diversification and community enhancement.” That’s at 8 a.m., Silverspot Cinema — Naples, 9118 Strada Place-#8205, Naples.

The Florida Priorities Summit will include a series of panel discussions about solving policy issues facing the state, with Rep. Holly Raschein, a Key Largo Republican who will take part in a discussion about environmental issues, and state Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, among others. That’s at 8 a.m., University of Miami, Donna E. Shalala Student Center, 1330 Miller Dr., Coral Gables.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues a four-day meeting in Broward County. That’s at 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

The Florida Elections Commission will start a two-day meeting that will include interviewing candidates to become the commission’s executive director. That’s at 9 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Retail Federation will hold a media conference call to release a holiday shopping forecast. That’s at 11 a.m. Call-in number: 1-877-868-6863. Code: 841132.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hold a hearing in a lawsuit challenging a Florida law that requires elections supervisors to toss out provisional and mail-in ballots if voters’ signatures don’t match the ones on file. That’s at 1 p.m., United States Courthouse, 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.

The Florida League of Mayors will host a community service project, the kickoff event for League President Matthew Surrency’s “Mayors Serve Local” initiative. That’s at 1:30 p.m., Osceola Council on Aging, 700 Generation Point, Kissimmee.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will analyze “Article V” revenues, which are used to help fund the court system. That’s at 1:30 p.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.

The Florida Venture Forum, in partnership with Space Florida, will hold a Florida Aerospace Capital Forum, to “broaden the spectrum of early-stage Florida-based aerospace companies and entrepreneurs.” That’s at 1:30 p.m. Guidewell Innovation Center, 6555 Sanger Road, Orlando.

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Bryon Shafer of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will present “Interpreting an Era of Partisan Volatility: The 2018 Elections in Context” as part of the Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Anderson-Ashby Lectureship on Public Policy Journalism. That’s at 5 p.m., FSU Claude Pepper Center Broad Auditorium, 636 W. Call St., Tallahassee.

The Broward County legislative delegation will hold an organizational meeting as it begins to prepare for the 2019 session. That’s at 6 p.m., Broward College, Bailey Hall, 3501 S.W. Davie Road, Davie.

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