Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Just how all-out-brawl-ish can they go in Florida’s U.S. Senate race? We are finding out.
After tonight’s debate finished taping earlier Tuesday, Rick Scott for Florida campaign manager JackieSchutzZeckman emailed the news media to warn them that they “will see Bill Nelson losing his mind.”
“A rambling, incoherent, confused, disjointed performance from a desperate career politician who is trying to hold on to his job. Bill Nelson laid out no vision for Florida and is barely hanging on,” she wrote of the 76-year-old incumbent Democrat. (Scott, a Republican, is 65.)
RyanBrown, Nelson’s campaign spokesman, countered that “Nelson laid Rick Scott out during the taping of the Telemundo debate this morning over the governor’s numerous untruths, frauds and unethical investments.
“Wish we could send you the tape now, but you’ll have to wait until it’s aired on Telemundo and live-streamed on their website in English at 7 p.m.,” he added.
As to Schutz Zeckman’s email, he said it just “shows how vitriolic they are in response to the governor’s debate loss. It is an unhinged, hate-filled attack that deserves no response.”
But Dan McLaughlin, Nelson’s other spokesman, soon was emailing that Scott “channeled DonaldTrump by attacking and trying to discredit Florida’s largest newspaper.”
Scott had attacked the fact-checking website PolitiFact because it’s “‘an arm of the Tampa Bay Times,’ he said,” quoting a POLITICO report. “‘They’re not exactly perceived to be a nonpartisan group … I would look at it as a part of the Democrat Party.’”
“We are terribly sad that she’s no longer with us … but we also remember one of Dorothy’s great gifts, the ability to comfort others in times of need. One of her favorite sayings was ‘this too shall pass.’ She would want us to remember her for the life she lived rather than the pain that her passing has caused.” — Jonathan Hukill, son of the late state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, writing on Facebook after her death from cancer Tuesday. She was 72.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in three cases, including an appeal by a Death Row inmate. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.
The Florida Commission on Offender Review will consider parole cases from across the state. That’s at 9 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
The 3rd District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission will hold an organizational meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., McDonald Hopkins LLC, 200 South Biscayne Blvd., Suite 2600, Miami.
The state Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission will meet at 9:30 a.m., 101 Rhyne Building, 2740 Centerview Dr., Tallahassee.
Casey DeSantis, the wife of Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis, is slated to appear at a luncheon held by Tampa Republican Women Federated. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Centre Club of Tampa, 123 South Westshore Blvd., 8th floor, Tampa.
The Florida Recycling Partnership, Anheuser-Busch and the Department of Environmental Protection are holding a summit to address the current state of recycling in Florida. The one-day event will begin with a news conference at Anheuser-Busch’s Metal Container Corporation, featuring state Sen. RobBradley. That’s at 12:30 p.m., 1110 Ellis Road North, Jacksonville.
Musician John Legend will appear at a campaign event to support Amendment 4, which will be on the November ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment would restore voting rights for most felons who have served their sentences. That’s at 3:30 p.m., Evans High School auditorium, 4949 Silver Star Road, Orlando.
Republican NicolasKimaz, who is trying to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. TedDeutch in Congressional District 22, is slated to raise money during an event in Palm Beach County. That’s at 7 p.m., Waterstone Resort & Marina, 999 East Camino Real, Boca Raton.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
As promised, fresh poll numbers on the Governor’s race: Democrat AndrewGillum is leading Republican RonDeSantis by two points, 47-45 percent.
That’s if the election were today. But it isn’t. There’s at least three debates (maybe more) and five weeks that separate the two from Election Day.
Still, there’s a trend. Gillum has consistently led DeSantis in early polling of the general.
That said, the latest from St. Pete Polls suggests the race is close. Gillum has a 2 percent lead — also the margin of error. Each candidate received similar (75 percent) support from their respective party’s voters.
Gillum leads in Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm Beach and Miami. DeSantis is strong in Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers. In Tampa and Orlando, both coveted metropolitan areas, the two are statistically tied.
For Gillum zealots, this survey may quell some of the hype from last week, when we saw a series of polls put Gillum ahead. Quinnipiac University gave him a 9-point lead, his largest yet.
For Team DeSantis, this might serve as a soothing elixir, as these numbers come from one of the most accurate polling outfits during the primary.
Recall: We had DeSantis up on AdamPutnam by 23 points, compared to his 20-point victory. And our numbers reflected a last-minute surge from Gillum into second place, compared to the numerous other surveys that suggested anything but.
— WHAT DESANTIS WORLD IS THINKING —
Top sources inside the DeSantis campaign acknowledge that there’s no doubt Gillum had a good September, but they like to say that “as the Atlanta Falcons taught us, there’s four quarters to a football game.”
Gillum rode a wave of national attention after his upset primary win, but since then DeSantis has been doing the things that campaigns actually need to do to win in November.
Info flow is something the DeSantis campaign tracks in its polls because it shows what people are hearing about the candidates. For example, respondents are asked, “Have you seen, read, or heard anything about Ron Desantis/Andrew Gillum, and if so, are you more or less likely to vote for them?”
DeSantis’ people recognize that their guy’s info flow was negative for the first two tracks after the primary, but they say its now back to positive whereas Gillum’s is getting more negative.
While Gillum’s team has taken the strategy of going hard on Twitter and planting print stories about perceived momentum, Team DeSantis insists it has been busy raising money and outspending the Gillum campaign on TV, digital, and mail while also knocking on over half a million doors in the last two weeks alone.
In the DeSantis campaign’s weekly tracking poll ending Friday (n5000, IVR/live hybrid) it had: DeSantis only down 45 percent to 47 percent. That’s a major improvement over last week where we were -8%. (And also where St. Pete Polls pegged the race.)
DeSantis’s image has improved 6 percent net from last week. He’s now even at 39/39, and was 36/42 last week. Gillum is slowly coming back to earth, now +9 percent (42/33) net favorable versus +15 percent (44/29) last week for a net change of -6 percent.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@AGlorios: It’s breast cancer awareness month. GO GET A MAMMOGRAM, ladies. It saved my life.
—@BiancaJoanie: @RicardoRossello admits he “regrets” some words he said before Gillum’s upset win, when he endorsed Gwen Graham: “I said, ‘Maybe it’s another time.’” Gets audible “ooh” from audience.
—@SteveSchale: How important is it to make sure your friends (AND YOU) return your vote by mail ballot? In 2014, 70,000 more Florida Democrats than Republicans left their VBM ballot unreturned. Rick Scott won by 64,000 votes. So return your d**n ballots. And makes sure your friends do.
—@DeFede: So now the first English-language debate will be on @CNN likely moderated by @JakeTapper. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Tapper. I’m sure he’ll do well. But when you fly in for a debate tailored to a national audience, I’m leery Florida issues will get their due
—@MarcACaputo: A case study in @TonyFabrizioGOP research & messaging: In the runup to Scott’s 2010 bid, polls & focus groups found he’d lead his opponent by 20 points quickly. But Medicare fraud cost Scott almost 35 points. He gained it mostly back by saying “I take responsibility.” It worked
—@TheDaraKam: Play-on-words from @MattCaldwell_fl blasting Democratic opponent @NikkiFried — former medical marijuana lobbyist — as a “chronic lobbyist”
—@Rumpfshaker: Strong ad from @voteAshleyMoody that makes a fair point — her opponent really hasn’t prosecuted a single case. AG isn’t a great place to “learn on the job.”
—@ByronDonalds: Launched the Hope Scholarship Program today at the DeSalle Academy in Fort Myers. I am so proud of this legislation & I couldn’t be more excited to see how this opportunity will change families and students lives forever! Thank you to all of those who helped along the way!
—@APStylebook: If a comma doesn’t help make clear what is being said, don’t use it. But: If the comma is needed for accuracy or clarity, then be sure to use it. That includes the Oxford comma, when you need it for clarity.
— DAYS UNTIL —
FSU vs. UM football game — 4; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 8; MLB World Series begins — 23; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 23; Early voting begins — 25; Halloween — 29; General Election Day — 35; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 46; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 49; Thanksgiving — 51; Black Friday — 52; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 56; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 133; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 154; Captain Marvel release — 157; 2020 General Election — 763.
— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —
— TOP STORY —
They’ve been going at it in ads and through proxies, but now incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, will debate head to head.
They’ll square off Tuesday in the Telemundo 51 studios in Miramar, with the results to be aired later that day.
National election watchers have tagged this race as a bellwether. Republicans need to keep control of the closely-divided Senate. Taking Nelson’s seat would beef up the GOP’s position to hold its majority.
In Florida, Nelson has been the last Democrat standing as Republicans have controlled every other statewide office since the 2010 elections. Democrats hope to capture other statewide offices in November, but re-electing Nelson is crucial for the party.
It remains unclear, of course, how much the debate will affect the campaign. Neither candidate is known for soaring oratory. But each will try to score points on what they consider compelling issues — and hope the other guy slips up.
The debate will be taped at 11 a.m., Telemundo 51 studios, 15000 S.W. 27th St., Miramar. Airtime is 7 p.m. on Telemundo stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, Tampa and West Palm Beach markets and can be seen on the stations’ digital and mobile platforms.
— DESANTIS VS. GILLUM —
“Another poll, another lead for Andrew Gillum; PPP pegs him up 4 points over Ron DeSantis” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The newest survey from Public Policy Polling has Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Governor, ahead by four points in his race against DeSantis. The survey sampled 779 registered voters Sept. 28-30. Gillum earned 48 percent support while DeSantis sat at 44 percent. Gillum has now led DeSantis in every major poll released since the two secured their nominations on Aug. 28, according to an analysis by RealClearPolitics.
“Boricua backers: Puerto Rican leaders endorse Gillum” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — More than a dozen Puerto Rican leaders across the U.S. have announced their support for Gillum‘s campaign for Governor. Gillum, the Democratic candidate in the race, currently serves as Mayor of Tallahassee. He is competing against former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee. Among Gillum’s new spate of backers are former Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Florida’s 9th Congressional District. State Reps. Robert Asencio, John Cortes and Amy Mercado also endorsed Gillum’s campaign, along with state Sen. Victor Torres.
“Florida Dems note DeSantis vote 5 years ago to shut down federal government” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis was one of a group of approximately three dozen House conservatives who attached a provision to a spending bill that said funding for the federal government’s operations could only happen if Obama’s health care program were cut. It was considered a “poison pill” that eliminated any chance of the federal budget getting support in the U.S. Senate, leading to gridlock. Three Florida Democrats who served in the House at that time were happy to note DeSantis’ support for shutting down the government on a conference call Monday. “It was really a minority of the House Republicans, sometimes called the Tea Party Caucus, who were at the heart of this. And Ron DeSantis was part of that Tea Party Caucus,” said Tampa Representative Kathy Castor. “It was irresponsible. It was bad for the country.”
“Koch-backed veterans’ group to boost DeSantis with direct mail” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Concerned Veterans for America Action announced its intentions to wade into the Governor’s race, with direct mail on behalf of DeSantis. CVAA is an offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch Network initiative. Koch support was a flashpoint in the Republican primary between DeSantis and Adam Putnam, with a Putnam spokesperson describing “D.C. DeSantis” as “a puppet of the open-border, anti-Trump Koch brothers.” That messaging won’t be heard again this campaign season. The campaign, per the Koch veterans’ group, is “highlighting his dedicated support for veterans.” Expect a six-figure spend for this purpose.
“DeSantis doesn’t mention bump stocks when memorializing Vegas mass shooting victims” via Florida Politics — On Oct. 1, 2017, a gunman opened up fire on the attendees of a music festival in Las Vegas, and in a matter of moments, it became the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The casualties: 58 dead, 851 wounded. The discussion in the immediate aftermath of the massacre was to ban bump stocks, which allowed for the rapid-fire that facilitated the Mandalay Bay massacre. A year after that shooting, the “BAN” seems to have stalled. And Trump’s political allies, including one running for Florida Governor on the strength of the Presidential endorsement, aren’t mentioning bump stocks … The Vegas massacre, per DeSantis, “serves as a reminder of the importance of mental health services and improving programs that provide treatment for those who need it most.“
“DeSantis hits Gillum on donors subpoenaed by FBI” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — DeSantis hasn’t been shy in attacking his Democratic opponent about the ongoing FBI investigation in Tallahassee. The latest strike? The DeSantis campaign is calling on Gillum to return more than $75,000 in campaign donations from those who’ve been subpoenaed in the course of the more-than-three-year-long investigation into Tallahassee’s city government. While no charges have been filed, the DeSantis campaign considers the subpoenaed donors and businesses linked to them as “tied to the FBI investigation.” “Records show that Gillum has received contributions from 36 of the 40 named subjects of the FBI investigation,” StephenLawson, DeSantis’ communications director said.
Assignment editors — Lt. Gov. candidate Jeanette Nuñez will attend a Hispanic Business Women’s Roundtable, 2 p.m., Mondongo’s Restaurante, 3500 NW 87 Avenue, Doral.
“Gillum gubernatorial campaign moves into new digs” via Jeff Schweers of Tallahassee Democrat — The Gillum for Governor campaign is sharing space with DarylParks, a trial and civil rights lawyer who donated thousands to Gillum’s campaign. But campaign finance reports don’t show any rent paid yet or the offices at the Parks Crump Building at 240 N. Magnolia Drive across from the Tallahassee Democrat. The campaign moved in after Gillum won the Democratic primary. “We recently moved into this office, after Labor Day,” said CarlieWaibel, a campaign spokeswoman. “We’ll pay rent at the end of the month.” The move shows a trend of Gillum to share digs with friends and supporters. His previous campaign headquarters were at Lettman Square at 1550 Melvin St., owned by Sharon Lettman-Hicks of P&P Communications, Gillum’s sometime employer and mentor.
Assignment editors — Forward Florida, Gillum’s political committee, holds a luncheon, 11:30 a.m., The Residences at Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota.
Assignment editors — Gillum will join state Rep. Margaret Good of Sarasota and local community leaders to discuss red tide’s impact on the environment and local economy, and what can be done to mitigate it, 12:45 p.m., Siesta Beach Pavilion, 948 Beach Rd. Siesta Key.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“How ‘toxic’ Donald Trump — and Chuck Schumer — factored into Ricardo Rosselló’s endorsement of Nelson” via Marc Caputo via POLITICO Florida — Puerto Rico’s governor said it was a “tough decision” to endorse Nelson over Scott, but those familiar with his thinking say his fellow Democrat’s longtime support for the island and Trump‘s “toxic” behavior made the choice easier. In his endorsement — which surprised and angered Scott supporters — Gov. Rosselló said Nelson has been a good personal friend to him as well as Puerto Ricans in general because of his support of statehood, Nelson’s opposition to the massive Republican tax bill that disfavored Puerto Rico and his help in steering more federal money to the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria last year. “I am grateful because, in our toughest time, you stood in the forefront and helped the people of Puerto Rico,” Rosselló said at an Orlando news conference where his praise directly contradicts the criticism of his lieutenant governor, Luis G. Rivera-Marín, who told POLITICO the day before that Nelson has done far too little for the island compared to Scott.
“Bill Nelson, Rick Scott tied in battleground U.S. Senate contest” via Florida Politics — The St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, found Nelson and Scott each receiving about 47 percent support from likely general election voters. Without rounding, Scott slightly edges out Nelson, 47.4 percent to 46.7 percent. The remaining voters are undecided. Both Nelson and Scott have similarly strong support among their bases, with each breaching the 75 percent threshold among the party faithful, though Independent voters prefer Nelson by a 51-40 margin. The poll also measured each candidate’s support regionally, with Scott holding firm leads in the state’s Republican bastions of Pensacola, Panama City and Southwest Florida. The exiting Governor also holds a 56-39 percent lead in the Jacksonville media market. Nelson, meanwhile, ran up the score in Tallahassee, Gainesville, and South Florida. He also holds a slim lead in the Orlando market, while the pair split Tampa with 46 percent support apiece.
“Nelson leading Scott by 4 points in latest poll” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The turnaround may be real for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Nelson, as he is leading Scott in yet another poll. The newest Public Policy Polling survey puts Nelson up 4 points against Scott, the outgoing Florida Governor. Nelson grabbed 48 percent while Scott earned 44 percent. A total of 9 percent say they remain undecided. The survey sampled 779 registered voters Sept. 28-30. Nelson also earned better favorable numbers than Scott, though both were underwater.
“Nelson stuck in Washington during final stretch of Senate race against Scott” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — The high-stakes nomination of U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has required that Senators remain in the nation’s capital through every twist and turn in the confirmation process. And Democrats expect Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep the chamber in session for most of, if not all of October, meaning Senators in difficult re-election battles, like Nelson, will have precious few days to stump in their home states. Already, Nelson has maintained a lighter campaign schedule this election cycle than some Democrats are comfortable with. Like many of his Democratic colleagues in tight races, Nelson’s time in the state has been largely relegated to weekends.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Sean Shaw targeted on website, Twitter account as soft on crime” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – The Republican Attorneys General Association has created a website and apparently also a Twitter account aimed at portraying Sean Shaw, Democratic candidate for attorney general, as soft on crime. But the Twitter account, with the handle @SeanShawFlorida and account name realseanshaw, appears to violate Twitter’s rules on impersonation. The website, realseanshaw.com, contends Shaw is “Soft on crime – not a friend of law enforcement.” It says that’s because Shaw, an insurance policyholder’s lawyer, handled an insurance case representing a daycare center in which a child had been molested; because he sponsored legislation to end Florida’s policy of permanently revoking voting rights for those convicted of felonies; and because he backed Orange County state attorney Aramis Ayala in a conflict with Gov. Scott over the death penalty.
P.S. What’s this all about? Florida Politics received this text message last night:
“Nikki Fried to NRA: the Ag Commish doesn’t work for you”via Florida Politics — Fried, the Democratic nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, had a message for the National Rifle Association Monday. That message: the Ag Commissioner does not work for the gun lobby. “For eight years Florida’s Department of Agriculture has been run by the NRA. After the failure to perform background checks, we can’t afford another NRA sellout putting our safety at risk,” Fried asserted in a video message. “My opponent MattCaldwell is more of the same,” Fried continued, noting that Caldwell is “endorsed and A+ rated by the NRA—he voted against the School Safety Act passed after the Parkland tragedy and has spent nearly a decade in office doing their bidding.”
“Ross Spano holds slim lead over Kristen Carlson in new CD 15 poll” via Florida Politics — A new poll from Bold Blue Campaigns, conducted Sept. 22 through Sep. 27, found Spano ahead by 3 percentage points over Carlson, 49-46 percent, with 5 percent of voters saying they were undecided. Spano’s lead falls well within the poll’s margin of error and continues to show strong Democratic support in the heretofore safe Republican seat. “The 5 percent of undecided voters are primarily younger voters, independents and voters of color, meaning that the Democrat Carlson likely still has some room to grow, while Spano will have to rely on motivating the GOP base to turn out to fend off a potential wave result,” the polling memo said.
“Judge: Pam Keith, Roy David Walker can’t replace April Freeman” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A federal judge denied Keith and Walker the chance to run for Florida’s 17th Congressional district, where Democratic leaders must pick a replacement for the late Freeman. Now party leaders will hold an emergency meeting to choose who faces Republican candidate Greg Steube in the Nov. 6 general election. Keith and Walker filed a complaint in federal court asking that a judge determine the candidates, who lost separate party primaries earlier this year, be eligible as federal nominees despite a state law preventing candidates who have already run in a calendar year from seeking a separate office. U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich ruled against the plaintiffs, saying they failed to put forth a reasonable argument to delay normal election proceedings.
Breaking overnight: “Democrats choose Allen Ellison to replace Freeman in CD 17 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics —Ellison, a policy expert from Sebring, will replace the recently deceased Freeman as the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 17th Congressional District. The duty fell on Ellison following a conference call with Democratic leaders throughout the nine counties in the district. Ellison stood out among six applicants to seek the nomination … Ellison now plans to travel to Tallahassee and finish any necessary paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections and to pay the $10,400 qualification fee. “I’m pleased we have a candidate that is ready to step up and do the necessary work,” said JoAnne DeVries, Sarasota Democratic Party chairwoman. Ellison previously considered running in the district in the past but never qualified as a candidate. “I have actually lived in the district for over 30 years,” he wrote in an email to party leaders. DeVries said Ellison’s longtime connection to the district impressed party leaders.
“New Carlos Curbelo ad details girl who ‘inspired the world’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, titled “She Inspired the World,” highlights the story of Bella Rodriguez-Torres. Rodriguez-Torres fought a long battle with a lethal form of cancer, surviving years beyond expectation before passing away at age 10. The Live Like Bella Childhood Cancer Foundation was created in her memory. Bella’s father, Raymond Rodriguez-Torres, reflects on his daughter’s life in the ad before thanking Curbelo for supporting legislation to fund treatment for children like his daughter. “Because of Congressman Curbelo’s support, two federal pieces of legislation have been made possible to advance research for children battling cancer.” Rodriguez-Torres is referring to Curbelo’s involvement in securing the passage of the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act and the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act of 2018.
“Lawsuit could complicate GOP replacement in SD 14 race” via Florida Politics — Litigation in a congressional race may cloud the process of finding a GOP successor for DorothyHukill, the Port Orange Republican who has decided to not seek re-election in Senate District 14. Hukill on Friday announced via Facebook that she “recently experienced an aggressive recurrence” of her cancer, is forgoing re-election and decided to enter hospice care … Sarah Revell, director of communications for the Florida Department of State, explained that if the state receives a letter of withdrawal, “it would create a vacancy in nomination which triggers a process” outlined in state law.
“Direct mail roundup: Ray Pilon targets Margaret Good as ‘hyperpartisan’ in new ads” via Florida Politics — “Margaret Good: Putting her political party above our safety,” the front side of one of the mailers reads. “Proving she’s hyperpartisan, Margaret Good towed [sic] the party line instead of keeping our kids safe.” On the reverse, the ad railed against Good’s no vote on the school safety package passed by lawmakers in the 2018 Legislative Session after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre. The law raised the minimum age to buy long guns from 18 to 21 alongside several mental health and school safety provisions. Good was one of 50 House lawmakers to vote no on the bill. Some of the nays came from Republican lawmakers who thought the bill went too far, while Democratic lawmakers asserted that the law did not go far enough.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Felons’ rights restoration amendment positioned to pass, survey says” via Florida Politics — A poll commissioned by the supportive Floridians for a Fair Democracy shows sufficient support to pass a Constitutional Amendment to restore reformed felons’ civil rights. The poll of 1,000 likely voters shows 74 percent support for Amendment 4, a number well above the 60 percent threshold … While just 59 percent of Republicans support the measure, 79 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats are in support. The amendment also has strong support demographically, ranging from 62 percent support from Hispanics to 92 percent backing from African-American voters. Not all polls are so optimistic when it comes to the amendment, however. A Florida Chamber of Commerce survey released Monday reveals that while there is 2-to-1 support for the amendment among those who have decided (42-20), 36 percent over voters remain undecided.
Marcy’s Law group announces state chairs — Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, Democrat State Sen. Lauren Book, Republican State Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, and Former Democratic State Party Chair, State Sen., and State Attorney Rod Smith will serve as state chairs of the campaign to pass Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida. If passed, Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida would provide crime victims with rights and protections equivalent to those already afforded the accused and convicted. It will equalize victims in the court system without taking any rights or protections away from defendants.
“To the Editor: When you return to Florida…” via Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, New Hampshire) — The fight over a proposed constitutional amendment banning greyhound racing in Florida has found its way to the letters to the editors of a New England daily newspaper: “This letter is for summer residents of New Hampshire who will vote in Florida in November. Amendment 13, advertised to help ‘protect dogs’ by ending greyhound racing, does not protect them! … I have toured kennels, and greyhounds today are loved and well cared for. Take one of the advertised NGA track tours, and please vote ‘no on 13.’ ” The letter was signed by “Wendi Tremblay, Barrington.”
— ENDORSEMENT ROUNDUP —
The Tampa Bay Times unveiled its Cabinet candidate endorsements on Tuesday, recommending two Democrats and a Republican for the three positions.
The Times recommends Democrat NikkiFried over Republican MattCaldwell for Agriculture Commissioner, writing that Fried would be “a stark change from the traditional mold of Florida’s chief farmer, bringing more diversity to the state Cabinet and a new emphasis on the increasingly important consumer services side of the job.”
In the race for Attorney General, the Tampa newspaper suggests Floridians back Republican AshleyMoody because she “has the stronger legal experience and is best prepared to become attorney general and serve on the Cabinet,” when compared to Democratic opponent SeanShaw.
In the Chief Financial Officer race, the Times’ editorial team backed Democrat JeremyRing over incumbent Republican JimmyPatronis, calling Ring “far more qualified.”
The Sun-Sentinel, which has backed Gillum, endorsed Attorney General hopeful Shaw on Monday, writing that “Moody has the right resume, but the wrong approach.”
The Palm Beach Post endorsed Fried in the Ag Commissioner race for bringing “a bushel of ideas to an office not exactly known for innovation and creativity.”
“Barack Obama’s Florida endorsements: who made the cut, who didn’t?” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — President Obama endorsed Democrats Gillum for governor, Nelson for a fourth Senate term and Lauren Baer for a Palm Beach-Treasure Coast U.S. House seat as part of a nationwide list of endorsements. Obama endorsed a total of 19 Florida candidates in competitive races from state House to Congress to the high-profile contests for Senate and governor. Noticeably absent from Obama’s list: Donna Shalala, the former Health and Human Services secretary and University of Miami president who’s running for the open Miami congressional seat of retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Obama also declined to weigh in on Florida’s statewide races for Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Agriculture Commissioner.
— STATEWIDE —
“’AOB’ insurance fight goes to Supreme Court” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Pointing to conflicting opinions in the state’s appellate courts, attorneys filed notices asking the Supreme Court to take up a St. Lucie County case about a water-damage insurance claim. In a somewhat-unusual circumstance, attorneys representing parties on both sides — an insurer and a restoration company — want the Supreme Court to weigh in. While assignment of benefits is nothing new, it has become high-profile because of increased claims for water damage to homes, particularly in South Florida. Insurers argue that the process has become riddled with fraud and litigation, driving up insurance rates. Contractors and trial attorneys contend that assigning benefits helps homeowners hire contractors quickly to repair damage and forces insurers to properly pay claims. A decision last month by the 4th District Court of Appeal in the St. Lucie County case was a victory for the insurance industry because it upheld a restriction on assignment of benefits. But that decision conflicted with a ruling last year by the 5th District Court of Appeal. It is too early to know whether the Supreme Court will take up the dispute.
“Judge’s ruling eviscerates state’s greyhound drug-testing system” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — An administrative law judge on Monday largely gutted the state’s proposed rule governing the drug testing of racing greyhounds. In a 44-page “finalorder,” Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early struck down specific provisions of the state regulation on how greyhounds are chosen for testing on race days, and how samples are stored and at what temperature … Early also criticized the lack of standards: The rule “provides no procedure for handling, storing, or shipping (urine specimens), and no chain of custody procedure, other than delivery to the (state’s) contract laboratory,” he wrote … For instance, the state requires using “evidence tape” to seal samples and to store them in “lockable freezers” until they’re sent off for testing. But Early said the rule was “irrational” because it doesn’t actually require the freezers to be locked.
“Appeals court to hear arguments on Scott records” via the News Service of Florida — The 1st District Court of Appeal has scheduled arguments Oct. 10 in the dispute between Scott and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation … Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled Sept. 5 that Scott was required to turn over his calendar — including information about fundraising events and where the governor will reside at night — to the group. Scott appealed, and the 1st District Court of Appeal said it would expedite the case. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed the lawsuit in July after the Scott administration did not provide the requested calendar information in response to a public-records request. The request was made after the state Agency for Health Care Administration did not renew a five-year Medicaid contract with the foundation’s subsidiary, Positive Healthcare, to provide Medicaid services in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
“’Hope’ scholarship motorist contributions start” via the News Service of Florida — Florida auto dealers were required to begin carrying out part of a new law that will allow car buyers to help fund the controversial “Hope” scholarship program. Under the law, car buyers can voluntarily shift up to $105 from the sales taxes they would normally pay on vehicle transactions to the Hope scholarship program. The scholarships will allow students who are victims of bullying or other violence to receive public funding to move to private schools. Opponents have argued, in part, that the bullying issue is being used to expand school vouchers to thousands of students.
“Nearly $300 million in BP oil spill restoration funds still pouring into Florida” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approved nearly $300 million in projects to restore and protect Florida’s Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill, Gov. Scott announced. The Council is comprised of the five Governors from the states affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and several federal agencies. Congress created the council through its 2012 Revived Economies of the Gulf States (RESTORE) Act that’s funded through BP and parties responsible for the oil spill. The $291 million in state funding is intended to restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality and quantity, replenish and protect marine life and fisheries, restore and revitalize the Gulf economy and resiliency.
“FDOT doesn’t know if it breached 6 million customers’ SunPass accounts” via Noah Pransky of WTSP — Before the state’s failed SunPass upgrade in June, troubled FDOT contractor Conduent accidentally left a test site — with customers’ account information — on an unsecured public internet page — a risk that experts say would have made it easy for hackers to access and exploit 6.5 million customers’ accounts. But the state never told customers of the breach risk, even though FDOT’s own data security experts expressed concern in May about the mistake. “The instant you put anything on the internet publicly, there are attempts to hack it,” said Bryan Graf, Vice President of Development at Abacode CyberSecurity Experts. “Exposing a test site to the Internet, especially without encrypting its traffic, could potentially increase the chance that maliciously — or accidentally — your information could be released and used by a malicious actor.”
“Prosecutor who sparked Jackson County drug-planting probe resigns as whistleblower” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Christina Pumphrey started hearing whispers about Jackson County Deputy Zachary Wester not long after joining the State Attorney’s Office. “You can’t trust him,” a couple of assistant public defenders told her. “You’ve got to watch him. Our clients are complaining about him.” Pumphrey, who spent nearly 15 years as a state government lawyer, went to work for the 14th Judicial Circuit prosecutor’s office in early May. Pumphrey didn’t set out to become a whistleblower. But after sharing her concerns about Wester with higher-ups, she set off a chain reaction that ultimately led to his firing, her resignation and the recent dismissal of nearly 120 cases involving the ex-deputy. Pumphrey decided to leave the State Attorney’s Office, a job she loved. She put in her notice earlier this month. Her last day was Friday.
— TWEET, TWEET —
Today, @POTUS awarded the #MedalOfHonor to a patriot & American hero, @USArmy Special Forces SSG Ronald J. Shurer II. SSG Shurer raced into danger to provide medical care to his fellow soldiers. His selfless actions to save lives in Afghanistan inspire us all & we salute you. pic.twitter.com/4QdDFFK6ie
“Blame for water pollution misdirected at sugarcane farmers” via Weston Pryor for the Orlando Sentinel — As a Glades family sugarcane farmer and county commissioner, I was angry and disappointed about the Sept. 6 OrlandoSentinel.com guest column “Dead fish on Florida shores: Turn outrage into action” by Bullsugar.org representative Chris Maroney. This is not a crisis caused by farmers south of Lake Okeechobee. This is because millions of people have moved into a system designed more than 70 years ago for a fraction of that population. What Bullsugar neglected to reveal was that nearly 95 percent of this water and nutrients runs off communities from Orlando south into Lake Okeechobee. When Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades are full, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — not sugarcane farmers — discharges that water east and west to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries because of dike safety concerns during hurricane season.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Personnel note: Mike Fischer joins The Legis Group” via Florida Politics — The Legis Group, a lobbying concern founded by former Republican House members Rob Schenck and Doug Holder, announced Fischer is joining its Tallahassee office. Fischer has 15 years of experience lobbying the legislative and executive branches in Florida. Before joining The Legis Group, he was the owner of Redfish Consulting. “I’m honored to join the team at The Legis Group,” Fischer said in a statement. “It’s an exciting opportunity for me to work with such a talented group of people and help the firm continue to grow.” Added Schenck: “It is an honor to have Mr. Fischer join The Legis Group … Mike is a tremendous talent and resource.” Fischer has lobbied effectively on a wide variety of topics, including health care, transportation, budget, and regulatory issues.
Personnel note: Alisa LaPolt returns to Topsail Public Affairs — LaPolt, a Tallahassee-based communications consultant, is returning to lead Topsail Public Affairs to pursue communication initiatives and advocacy, the firm said. A press release noted her passion for “providing a strong, meaningful voice to businesses, associations, and individuals advocating for change at a time when many feel disconnected from government and politics.” She most recently served as NAMI Florida’s Executive Director. LaPolt also was the lead lobbyist for the Florida Nurses Association, and previously was a reporter for Gannett News Service (now USA Today Network).
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Jessica Janasiewicz, Corinne Mixon, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida Court Reporters Association, School District of Manatee County
Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc.
Georgia McKeown, Johnson & Blanton: City of Oak Hill, NextNav
— ALOE —
“Expansion permit approved for Best Western at Disney Springs” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The South Florida Water Management District has issued a permit for a new 14-story tower and other additions at the Best Western Lake Buena Vista Hotel. The hotel is located Hotel Plaza Boulevard northeast of Disney Springs and just west of I-4. The project, called the “Black Lake Hotel,” will add the new tower along with a new meeting space, pool and parking in an area just under 9.5 acres. “A small portion of it will encroach into the wetland to the west. However, most of it will be located in what is presently surface parking,” according to documents included with the Reedy Creek Improvement District’s initial application.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
On the eve of the first debate for U.S. Senate (see ‘Wake Up Early’ below), the newest poll numbers counter the competition and show a tightening race.
Incumbent Democrat BillNelson is barely leading GOP challenger RickScott by 0.7 percent, at 47.4 percent to 46.7 percent, according to the latest from St. Pete Polls.
With a 2 percent margin of error, the two candidates are in the proverbial “statistical dead heat.” Another 6 percent are undecided.
Keep in mind that St. Pete Polls was among the most accurate in August’s primary contests.
Here’s the fine print: “The poll was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida.
“The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender and media market. The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below.
“The scientific results … have a sample size of 2,313 and a 2 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.”
Stay tuned — Florida Politics also will have results for the Governor’s race in Tuesday’s SUNBURN.
Bruce Nathan has lost his long-shot attempt to get back on the ballot for governor as a no-party affiliated (NPA) candidate.
Circuit Judge KarenGievers ruled against Nathan, a physical therapist from Stuart who’s never held elected office. He had qualified and lost as a Republican in the August primary.
“There is no path forward for a non-nominated candidate to convert to a general election NPA candidate or write-in candidate,” Gievers wrote in an order last week.
“Mr. Nathan was and remains free to change his party affiliation, but he has no right to claim he qualified for the general election ballot when the office for which he actually qualified, during the only applicable qualifying period, was the nomination of the party with which he signed an oath indicating his affiliation.”
Nathan had sued the Division of Elections by acting his own lawyer. AshleyDavis, an attorney for the state, had argued at a hearing last week that to lose a partisan primary and then be allowed to stay on the ballot as an NPA candidate for the same office would subvert the electoral process.
That would render the primary election “superfluous,” Davis said. “ … He has been eliminated from the race. He cannot (now) recast his candidacy as an NPA.”
“As Governor, Andrew will expand access to affordable health care, protect Floridians with pre-existing conditions, invest in education, protect the environment and build an economy that works for all.” — Former President BarackObama, endorsing AndrewGillum for Florida Governor.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in three cases, including a dispute about whether Gov. Scott has the authority to appoint a Northeast Florida circuit judge. That’s at 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.
Democrat Nelson and Republican Scott will hold their first debate before the Nov. 6 general election. The taping at 11 a.m., Telemundo 51 studios, 15000 S.W. 27th St., Miramar. Airtime at 7 p.m. on Telemundo stations in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Fort Myers, Tampa and West Palm Beach markets and across the stations’ digital and mobile platforms.
Forward Florida, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum’s political committee, holds a luncheon. That’s at 11:30 a.m., The Residences at Ritz-Carlton, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota.
Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ campaign will hold a kickoff event for volunteers. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Capt. Anderson’s Restaurant, 5551 North Lagoon Dr., Panama City Beach.
A fundraising reception is slated for Republican Mike Caruso, who is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. BillHager, a Delray Beach Republican, in Palm Beach County’s House District 89. Caruso faces Democrat JimBonfiglio in the Nov. 6 election. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Office of Peter Feaman, Esq., 3695 Boynton Beach Blvd., Suite 9, Boynton Beach.
Marsy’s Law for Florida, the organization advocating for crime victims’ rights through Amendment 6, will join communities across Central Florida Tuesday night in celebrating National Night Out, which aims to “strengthen relationships between neighborhoods and law enforcement by coming together for a fun-filled night featuring block parties, entertainment, exhibitors, safety demonstrations, food and more.” To see if an event is near you, click here.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Democrats at the top of the ticket continue holding a slight edge over their Republican opponents, according to new polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
At the same time, things don’t look nearly as good for many of the proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2018.
Bill Nelson holds a slim, two-point lead over Republican Rick Scott 48-46 percent, with only 4 percent undecided.
Down ballot, Democrat Sean Shaw also leads by two points over Republican Ashley Moody 35-33 percent in the race for Florida Attorney General, with one of five respondents saying they’re undecided.
So far in 2018, the tightest race in the state is for Chief Financial Officer, where Republican incumbent Jimmy Patronis is dead even with Democrat Jeremy Ring, 38 percent apiece. Here again, 20 percent are undecided.
In the case of Agriculture Commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried is also leading Republican Matt Caldwell by five points, 42-37 percent, with 17 percent undecided.
— AS FOR AMENDMENTS … —
For constitutional amendments, the Chamber poll shows only two — Amendments 1 and 7 — meeting the 60 percent approval threshold for passage. Amendment 1, which seeks to increase the homestead exemption, barely makes it with exactly 60 percent, 27 percent saying no and 12 percent unsure. With likely Florida voters, the best in the bunch is Amendment 7, increasing first responder and military member survivor benefits, with an even 70 percent approval, 12 percent saying no; 17 percent were unsure.
As for the remaining amendments:
— Amendment 2, limitations on property tax assessments: 50 percent approve, 25 percent disapprove and 24 percent unsure.
— Amendment 3, which gives Florida voters the last say on any gambling expansion: 54 percent approve, 28 percent disapprove and 18 percent unsure.
— Amendment 4, which seeks to restore voting rights to felons after serving their sentences: 42 percent approve, 20 percent disapprove and 36 percent unsure.
— Amendment 5, which would require a supermajority to raise taxes or fees: 45 percent approve, 36 percent disapprove and 18 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 6, known as “Marcy’s Law,” provides certain rights to crime victims, as well as setting mandatory retirement ages for judges: 45 percent approve, 18 percent disapprove and 36 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 9, a combined proposal which would both prohibit offshore drilling in Florida and vaping indoors: 50 percent approve, 34 percent disapprove and 14 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 10, which would overhaul state and local governments by mandating elected constitutional officers: 24 percent approve, 20 percent disapprove and 54 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 11, which repeals the state’s ability to prohibit non-citizens from buying, owning and selling property: 26 percent approve, 23 percent disapprove and 49 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 12, a ban on lobbying by public officials during their term and for six years after leaving office: 53 percent approve, 21 percent disapprove and 25 percent are unsure.
— Amendment 13, a proposal that would end greyhound dog racing in Florida: 46 percent approve, 36 percent disapprove and 17 percent are unsure.
— DAYS UNTIL —
FSU vs. UM football game — 5; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 9; MLB World Series begins — 24; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 24; Early voting begins — 26; Halloween — 30; General Election Day — 36; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 47; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 50; Thanksgiving — 52; Black Friday — 53; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 57; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 134; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 155; Captain Marvel release — 158; 2020 General Election — 764.
— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —
— TOP STORIES —
“Brett Kavanaugh drama could affect Florida races” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A big question is how the Supreme Court nomination fight could impact female voters, especially independents and moderate Republican women. Republican leaders run the risk of alienating these voters if they feel that Ford’s accusations have not been handled properly. Independents have been trending away from the GOP in Florida, with many holding negative views of Donald Trump. “Younger independent females, it wouldn’t be 100 percent, but it may energize them,” University of South Florida political science professor emeritus Susan MacManus said of the Kavanaugh nomination battle. What about GOP women? Sarasota County Commissioner Nancy Detert — a Republican known for an independent streak — said she thought Ford “was handled with total respect.” “I think she was absolutely treated fairly,” Detert said. Detert unfriended three friends on Facebook last week over comments made about Kavanaugh.
“Dorothy Hukill exits race, citing cancer’s return” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — “Unfortunately, I have recently experienced an aggressive recurrence of this cancer. Along with my family, I have made the difficult decision to enter hospice care and no longer seek treatment for this disease,” Hukill said on Facebook. Her name will remain on the ballots set to be mailed to voters next week, for early voting and on Nov. 6, said Lisa Lewis, Volusia County supervisor of elections, but the Republican Party will be allowed to choose a replacement to compete against Democrat Mel Martin. Martin said she was taking a break from her campaign Friday, writing an open letter to Hukill, saying she has “always had my respect and admiration,” and the news of her exit “sent shock waves of sadness,” a reminder of fragile humanity. Hukill’s message thanks supporters, friends and family for their “well wishes and prayers” and calls her public service one of her great joys.
— FROM THE WEEKEND —
“Billionaire Tom Steyer rallies progressive voters in St. Pete town hall” via Caitlin Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times — His stop at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg was part of a nationwide tour to rally voters behind progressive ideas and his own effort to impeach Trump. “We need to retake the democracy,” Steyer said to a chorus of cheers. “There has been a hostile corporate takeover of our democracy … in the last 40 years. And everybody knows it.” He opened the town hall by commenting on the recent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He denied an accusation by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford that he attempted to sexually assault her decades ago while they were in high school. “We couldn’t have a clearer example of injustice,” Steyer said of the hearings. “I think it’s way past due to end that era in the United States.”
“Ron DeSantis appears at Miami-Dade Black Professionals Summit” via Glenna Milberg, Michael Putney and Andrea Torres of WPLG — DeSantis spoke to members of the Black Professionals Network in Miami on Friday; Gillum was the keynote speaker Saturday. DeSantis talked about school choice and economic investment, and he also tried to put to bed concerns that he is a racist. There was some friction at DeSantis event. When Pascale Royal, a Citrix employee and mother from Fort Lauderdale, interrupted to ask him if he had ideas on how to end “the school-to-prison pipeline” affecting black youth disproportionately, Raynard Jackson, a Washington-based Republican political consultant, intervened and didn’t allow DeSantis to answer the question. “Tensions are high,” said Kenasha Paul, an attorney and president of the Black Professionals Network. “Historically, people are already defensive.”
“Democrats celebrate in style at blue Gala in Coral Gables” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic bigwigs were out in full force as the Miami-Dade Democratic Party held its annual Blue Gala fundraising event at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Headlining the night was Democratic nominee Gillum and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. The swanky event began outdoors at the Biltmore as a live band set the mood for candidates, campaign workers, and Democratic donors to hobnob for raising money for competitive races this November. Tickets to the dinner began at $300 while access to the after just party set you back $50. According to the to the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, “every dollar raised will go to get-out-the-vote for Andrew Gillum, Bill Nelson, and Democrats up and down the ballot.”
“‘Julian Castro 2020’? Former HUD head addresses Democrats in Miami” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Castro sure sounded like a potential 2020 presidential candidate as he addressed South Florida Democrats at this weekend’s Blue Gala in Coral Gables. Castro was the keynote speaker for the Saturday night event, which was held at the Biltmore Hotel. He has said he’ll decide on a presidential run by the end of the year. But Castro sure hit all the right notes for a Democratic presidential candidate in his talk Saturday night, calling for universal health care, education reform, and a comprehensive immigration plan. He also hit on several policy notes key to the Florida political scene, such
“Pam Bondi slams Andrew Gillum for celebrating Aramis Ayala” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “Andrew Gillum is demonstrating that he will not stand up for our brave law enforcement officers who risk their lives each day to keep us safe,” Bondi said in a statement. “I know [Republican gubernatorial candidate] Ron DeSantis will stand shoulder to shoulder with all our brave first responders.” Gillum attended the Miami Dade Blue Gala in Coral Gables, where the Miami-Dade Democratic Party honored four individuals including Ayala. “It is unfathomable to me that Andrew Gillum would participate in honoring State Attorney Ayala, who refused to even consider the death penalty for the man who brutally murdered a true hero — Lieutenant Debra Clayton,” Bondi said.
— DESANTIS VS. GILLUM —
First on #FlaPol — “Chamber poll: Gillum holds 6-point lead over DeSantis” via Florida Politics — The poll, conducted Sept. 19-24, found the Tallahassee Mayor and his Lieutenant Governor pick, Orlando-area businessman Chris King, with a 48-42 percent lead. The lead represents a 2-percentage-point increase for Gillum, who led 47-43 percent in the Chamber’s prior measure, which was conducted Sept. 6 through Sept. 9. Unlike the last poll, the new results fall outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. Of the remaining 10 percent of respondents, 6 percent said they were still undecided, while 2 percent said they were backing Reform Party gubernatorial nominee Darcy Richardson and Nancy Argenziano.
“DCF staffer fired, being investigated after ‘inappropriately’ accessing Gillum records” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A longtime staffer with the Florida Department of Children and Families was fired last week for using a state database to look up the confidential driving records of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum. The records were accessed in June 2017 by Jason Purify, a “human resources counselor II” who was hired by the state in 2005. The information was housed in the Driver and Vehicle Information Database. DCF said Purify’s use of the database to look up information related to Gillum was “inappropriate” and he was fired on Sept. 21, when an audit noticed the access.
“Gillum campaign fires staffer who wore explicit anti-Trump shirt after offensive tweets surface” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — Screenshots of Manny Orozco-Ballestas’ now-deleted tweets, which were posted by Orlando-area fringe conservative blogger Jacob Engels, depict several messages degrading to women and body-shaming. The purported tweets from the former Gillum staffer date back to 2012 and 2013. They include a response to Trump saying, “you need to be executed,” a tweet criticizing obese people for posting food pictures on Instagram, and a graphic implying pacifiers for babies are “preparing” them for oral sex. “The type of language this young man used on social media before his employment with our campaign is unacceptable, and he will no longer be working with the campaign,” said Gillum campaign spokesperson Joshua Karp in a statement.
ICYMI: “Sarah Bascom joins team DeSantis” via Florida Politics — Bascom will join the communications team that has been leading the media efforts for DeSantis, will bring “decades of experience and strategies from notable campaign victories to the effort.” She has served as the communications director for the Florida Senate, under the late Senate President Jim King, and as the press secretary for the Senate Majority Caucus and deputy communications director for the Republican Party of Florida. She also consulted for Richard Corcoran when he was House Speaker-designate. More recently, she has been outside communications consultant for Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, state Rep. and future House Speaker Chris Sprowls, and outgoing Senate President Joe Negron.
“‘TLH Fact Check’ to vet portrayal of capital city in political campaigns” via Tallahassee Democrat — With Gillum facing off against DeSantis, the public record of each candidate is fair game for comment. In the back-and-forth salvos, Tallahassee’s reputation may well suffer collateral damage. Moreover, from now until the November election, our city from time to time will be in the national news media’s spotlight in a way not seen since the Bush v. Gore spectacle 18 years ago. That’s why the Tallahassee Democrat is initiating a project called TLH Fact Check — to ensure that the facts and the truth about this community are presented accurately. We don’t want to let political hyperbole and inaccurate portrayals go unchallenged, whether they be rosy scenarios that gloss over Tallahassee’s problems or smears that misrepresent or exaggerate those problems. Those are the kinds of problematic representations that will prompt TLH Fact Check to act.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“Senate race may be moving away from Rick Scott” via Harry Enten for CNN — A new Marist College poll finds that Nelson holds a 48 percent to 45 percent advantage over Scott. Two other gold standard polls out this week from the University of North Florida and Quinnipiac University give Nelson an average 3.5-point lead … For much of the summer, Scott has been tied or ahead of Nelson. Some of that polling was from lower quality pollsters (who don’t call cellphones or don’t use live interviews), but even among higher quality pollsters, it seemed Scott was more than holding his own. I’m not aware of a “fundamentals” model in which Scott would be favored. My own model that takes into account money raised from individuals, candidate quality (i.e., current or previous office held), the partisan lean of the state and the national political environment has Nelson favored by a little less than 10 percentage points … fundamentals indicate that Democrats are in better shape to take the Senate more than the polling does.
Assignment editors — Former Puerto Rican officials, including former Govs. Pedro Rosselló and Alejandro García Padilla, and Puerto Rico’s current Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will join U.S. Sen. Nelson for a special campaign announcement, 10:45 a.m., 1516 East Colonial Drive, Orlando (parking in rear lot, south of Hillcrest St.).
“How much responsibility did Scott really take in Medicare fraud scandal?” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott’s campaign is characterizing the notion of responsibility more broadly, contending he has, at least in part, taken responsibility since the scandal: “The Governor has taken responsibility for his company’s actions in countless public statements,” said a spokeswoman. Scott was never charged with any wrongdoing. Board members, including some who had helped Scott build the company into the nation’s largest and most profitable for-profit hospital corporation in the 1980s and ’90s, had painted him in news reports of the time as possibly being ignorant of the massive Medicare and Medicaid fraud allegations that federal officials were investigating in 1997. The reports also said some board members were frustrated that Scott was sticking to a defiant stance toward the FBI, insisting the company had nothing to worry about, as board members grew concerned that was the wrong approach. In March 1998, the industry journal Health Affairs published an in-depth article by Denver-based medical economist J.D. Kleinke stating, “The investigation has resulted in the ouster of the company’s founder, Richard Scott … Now, one year later, the dreams of Columbia/HCA’s founder, Richard Scott, lie in tatters … The company has become the focus of multiple federal investigations, Scott has long since been forced to resign by the board of directors of Columbia/HCA, and the whole health system is waiting for the government’s other prosecutorial shoe to drop.”
“Medicaid paid drugmaker in Scott’s portfolio hundreds of millions” via Pat Beall of the Palm Beach Post — Scott and his wife Ann have drawn profits of at least $250,000 — and as much as $2.1 million — from a drug company whose sky-high prices are draining state Medicaid coffers. Florida Medicaid, the perennially cash-strapped health program for Florida’s poorest and sickest residents, has paid as much as $770 million for Gilead Sciences drugs since 2013 … That bill includes Gilead’s $1,000-a-pill cure for the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus, a cost that generated congressional scrutiny and forced Florida Medicaid to ration lifesaving treatment. And when other Medicaid programs across the nation collectively slowed purchases of Gilead’s expensive drug in 2017 in favor of cheaper drugs from other manufacturers, Florida did the opposite.
“New Scott ad touts ‘leadership’ during Hurricane Irma” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Scott‘s latest ad reflects on his response to Hurricane Irma as it struck Florida last year. The 30-second spot, “Leadership,” is replete with clips of new anchors highlighting the danger of the storm, along with Scott’s warnings issued to residents as the storm closed in. Indeed, Scott was consistent in ringing the alarm bell pre-Irma, calling the Hurricane “the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.”
“’Mostly false:’ PolitiFact vets 9 Scott ads, finds all 9 are false” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Yes, nine out of nine. It’s almost impressive, yet hardly surprising, as Scott has used lies to distract from his own record every step of his political career. Just ask Bill McCollum. “Lies” isn’t a word I use casually. But when one of the most acclaimed fact-checking services in America labels nine ads “False,” “Mostly False” or “Pants on Fire,” what would you call it? Now, it’s worth noting that PolitiFact doesn’t vet every ad. When candidates make straightforward claims, there’s not much need for vetting. And obviously, Scott isn’t the only politician fudging facts. But Scott stands out because he and his supporters’ ads wield untruths with such relentless consistency (nine-for-nine and the only full-on “Pants on Fire” lies) — and because of the devilishly ingenious way he uses them to mask his own weaknesses.
Scott drops new Spanish-language adfeaturing Democratic supporters — “Demócrata” highlights testimony of a group of Democratic Hispanic community members who previously supported Nelson and are now behind Scott’s Senate campaign. “I’m a registered Democrat,” said William Diaz. “After eight years, not only have we found that Florida has a brilliant Governor, we have a Governor who understands the need of the melting pot. That’s why after reflecting and seeing the team and the work, I did not hesitate to make the decision to support Governor Scott for the Senate.”
“New ad dings Jeremy Ring over past lobbying work” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new digital ad is out hitting Ring, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, over his past work at a lobbying firm while holding his role as a state Senator. The ad, titled “Lobbyist,” was released by Treasure Florida, the political committee of his Republican opponent in the CFO race, Patronis. A request for comment from the Ring campaign is pending. “Jeremy Ring: sometimes a politician, sometimes a lobbyist,” the ad’s narrator begins. “At times, both, like when Senator Ring used his position to lobby for state contracts for his own client. Jeremy Ring: sometimes a politician, sometimes a lobbyist, always looking out for himself.”
New polling gives Ring six-point lead — Taken September 27-28, the Public Policy Polling survey in the race for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer shows Ring leading incumbent Republican Patronis 40-34 percent, with more than one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) undecided. The poll also found 68 percent of likely Florida voters “very excited” for the upcoming elections, with those “somewhat excited” and “not that excited” at 15 percent each.
Ashley Moody drops first general election ad — Moody is unveiling its first campaign advertisement for the general election, highlighting the former Hillsborough County judge’s experience as a federal prosecutor and circuit court judge, including the nearly 90 percent of Florida Sheriffs who have endorsed her candidacy. According to the campaign, her opponent state Rep. Shaw has never prosecuted a case.
“Disney, Seminole Tribe add $10M to campaign to limit casinos” via The Associated Press — Newly-filed campaign reports show that Disney Worldwide Services and the Seminole Tribe of Florida each donated $5 million to Voters in Charge this month. Voters in Charge is running ads to convince people to vote yes on Amendment 3. The proposed amendment says that only voters can approve new casinos in the future. Sixty percent of voters would have to say yes in order for it to pass. Disney has spent nearly $19.7 million to pass the amendment while the Seminoles have spent nearly $16.8 million.
“Will Marsy’s Law help victims or create new problems?” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — Florida law already calls for protecting victims’ rights, both in state statute and in a brief clause of the state Constitution. That law includes the right to be notified as a case progresses, the right to have a voice in prosecution and the right to restitution. While Marsy’s Law, also known as Amendment Six, would offer many of those same protections, it also includes a more expansive set of rights that cause some lawyers to believe it would hurt defendants, create loopholes, and add unexpected costs. Florida Bar Criminal Law Section President David Barksdale, a Jacksonville defense attorney, said that “my personal concern — not speaking on behalf of the Bar’s Criminal Law Section — is that Marsy’s Law erodes the core foundation of the criminal justice system: that a prosecution is between the state and an accused citizen, not a contest between two private citizens. Our Florida Constitution and law already do a great job of protecting crime victims.” Jennifer Fennell, a spokeswoman for Marsy’s Law for Florida, objected to that take: “What currently exists in the U.S. Constitution is nothing and what exists in the Florida Constitution is a single sentence that’s ambiguous and left up for interpretation.”
“Steve Bannon to speak at Hillsborough GOP dinner Oct. 26” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — The party announced the event on its Facebook page Friday, but only as a “save the date” notice with no details of the price, time or location. The event is billed as a “Trump Anniversary Dinner,” presumably the second anniversary of his election as president. Recently, Bannon has been advising rightist-nationalist political parties in Europe. Jim Waurishuk, chairman of the Hillsborough Republican Party, was an early Trump supporter who still has connections with White House political advisers.
— DOWN BALLOT —
Gabby Giffords gun group backs three Florida congressional candidates — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, is stepping into three Florida congressional races. The group is endorsing Democrats Nancy Soderberg in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, Chris Hunter in Florida’s 12th, and Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th. “Voters are ready to elect Chris Hunter, Donna Shalala, and Nancy Soderberg because they will always put protecting their communities over helping the gun lobby make a profit. Giffords is proud to endorse them for Congress because they will never stop fighting for what’s right,” Giffords said.
“Mike Miller TV spot goes after Stephanie Murphy on taxes, budget” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Miller’s ad, “The Difference,” launches in the Orlando television market. “We’re different,” Miller begins. “I voted to balance Florida’s budget. She voted against the balanced budget in Washington. I voted to cut your taxes. She voted against tax relief for middle-class families.” Miller’s commercial also seeks to tie Murphy, who has sought to position herself as a moderate, to the liberal wing of Democrats in Congress, particularly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who helped get Murphy elected in 2016.
“Judge blocks Democrats from picking replacement candidate for April Freeman” via Bill Smith of the News-Press.com — Candidate Pam Keith, who is suing to overturn a state law that prohibits her from running, said a temporary restraining order issued late Friday will give her the chance to make a case why the law that keeps her out of the race is unconstitutional. The order from U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich sets a hearing for noon Monday in Tampa. Keith and another candidate filed the suit Friday seeking postponement of Saturday’s scheduled meeting of Democratic chairs from the nine counties in the 17th Congressional District to name a replacement for Freeman. The meeting will still be held Saturday, but no candidate can be selected until after Monday’s hearing.
“Mary Barzee Flores issues debate challenge to Mario Diaz-Balart” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sam Miller, the campaign manager for Barzee Flores, says he sent a letter to Diaz-Balart’s team outlining a possible debate schedule. Miller has proposed six total debates or forums between the candidates. At least one debate will be televised in English in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers-Naples media markets. Another would be televised in Spanish in the Miami market. “Mario would likely agree that this race is a clear contrast in candidates,” Miller said. “Voters should be afforded the opportunity to see that contrast outside the strictures of 30-second ads.” Barzee Flores says she’s already accepted potential debates with various broadcasters including Univision, WPLG Local 10, and CBS4 Miami.
“Potential debate dates cause consternation among CD 27 candidates” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — With fewer than six weeks until Election Day, the candidates in Florida’s 27th Congressional District have still not nailed down a firm date for a single debate. That’s despite Democratic nominee Donna Shalala and Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar expressing weeks ago the desire to join together for a discussion of the issues. Both candidates maintain their desire to sit down together in comments made to Florida Politics. “I look forward to debating my opponent,” Shalala said. “I’m not dodging debates or forums. I stand up for what I believe. If Maria Elvira Salazar will not stand up to me, how can voters count on her to stand up to Trump?” But representatives from the Salazar campaign call allegations she’s “dodging” debates “absolutely false.”
“Is this not my beautiful house? Questions linger on Janet Cruz residency” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Critics of state Rep. Cruz are accusing the longtime lawmaker of not living in the urban Tampa district she represents … An anonymous tipster … raised the question in an email pointing to Cruz’s husband, Stephen Rifkin, who owns a waterfront mansion in a different House district — one currently held by Jackie Toledo … Records show Cruz owns two homes, both in Toledo’s South Tampa HD 60. One is located at 4114 W. Empedrado St., the other at 4428 W. Wisconsin Ave. Cruz’s husband owns another home in HD 60, at 5035 W. San Miguel St. Despite her husband owning a luxury waterfront home, Cruz lists her address as 4816 N. Fremont Ave in Tampa, within the boundaries of HD 62, which she currently represents. As proof she lives at that address, Cruz’s campaign provided several documents … Cruz’s campaign also provided bank statements showing she pays $1,150 in monthly rent at the Fremont home.
“Dems look to flip this House seat, but the opponent has 60 times as much money” via Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald — Javier Estevez, the Democratic candidate for the Florida House of Representatives in District 105, raised less than $5,000 for his race; his Republican opponent, Ana Maria Rodriguez, has taken in more than $230,000. But Estevez says he’s not worried: “From the beginning, I knew we were going to be outspent … Miami Republicans outspend Democrats in every single race. But the winner is going to be the candidate who can outwork the other and get out the votes, not the one with the biggest bank account.” The immense disparity in money — a 60-to-1 advantage for Rodriguez — is just one more odd element in one of South Florida’s oddest House districts. The product of a brutal gerrymander, District 105 stretches from Doral and Sweetwater on the far western age of Miami-Dade across Collier County to Naples. There’s even a little detour through Miramar in southwestern Broward. “You know, when we talk about walking the sidewalks, a lot of the district is in the Everglades,” joked Estevez. “So, there’s not as much walking as it looks like on the map.”
Happening tonight — Republican Anthony Sabatini holds a fundraiser for his House District 32 campaign, 6 p.m., JB Boondocks Restaurant, 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd., Howey in the Hills.
Save the date — Republican Joe Wicker is holding a fundraiser for his House District 59 campaign, Wednesday, October 17, 5:30 p.m., Curry Law Group, 750 W. Lumsden Road, Brandon.
— NEW LAWS —
Starting Monday, new Florida laws will take effect that add benefits for first responders suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, harsher penalties on people who abuse animals and 19 other measures signed by Gov. Scott after the 2018 Legislative Session.
— First responders who have witnessed the death of a minor or witnessed a death that involved “grievous bodily harm of a nature that shocks the conscience” can file workers’ compensation claims for lost wages.
— “Ponce’s Law” will allow judges to bar people convicted of animal cruelty from owning pets. The legislation also increases the severity ranking of animal-abuse related crimes, making it more likely that offenders would go to jail upon conviction.
— Allowing people buying guns to use credit cards to pay for background checks.
— Deaf people can voluntarily identify themselves as hearing-impaired when they register vehicles.
— An increase in penalties (to a third-degree felony) for people who trespass on airport property to injure other people, damage property or impede the operations of aircraft.
“Bottoms up: Beer glass bill goes into effect Monday” via Florida Politics — A new law goes into effect Monday to allow beer distributors to give away for free glasses printed with product names and logos — known as “branded glassware” — to bars and restaurants. Under previous law, glasses had to be sold. A version of the measure had been filed unsuccessfully last year, with this year’s bill finding traction with lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott. Those in favor, including small businesses, say it’ll be a help to them to cut down on glasses lost from theft and breakage. Opponents, including some craft brewers, had countered they won’t be able to afford to keep up with the stream of free glasses from Anheuser-Busch InBev, the makers of Bud Light and Stella Artois.
— STATEWIDE —
“Scott won’t vote on new FPL power plant until after election” via Deirdra Funcheon of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting — By canceling a scheduled hearing this month, Gov. Scott and his Cabinet avoided voting on a new power plant until after Election Day. The power plant’s approval would benefit Florida Power and Light, Scott’s largest corporate campaign donor and a company in which the governor has invested as much as $500,000. PL applied in July 2017 for state permission to dismantle an aging liquid natural gas power plant in Broward County and replace it with a new, more efficient facility. The Siting Board was scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the proposed power plant during a cabinet meeting September 11, but Scott’s administration postponed the matter until the next such meeting on December 4, four weeks after the election. At that point, Scott will be a lame duck, either as an outgoing governor or as Florida’s Senator-elect.
“Marco Rubio vows to fight highway after Miami-Dade backs away from buying Everglades land” via Jenny Staletovich and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Rubio vowed to continue opposing the extension of the 836/Dolphin Expressway when it became clear that transportation officials, despite a last-minute letter from Mayor Carlos Gimenez that seemed to agree with Rubio, would not meet his demand to purchase land for a wetlands restoration effort alongside the six-lane highway. The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority wants to buy only enough land to get the road built. “I want to make it abundantly clear, having MDX buy only the amount of land needed for permits will not suffice,” Rubio said in a statement. “I will do everything in my power to get federal agencies to reject this project,” he said, “if MDX fails to purchase all of the property needed for Everglades Restoration and swap it with current federal lands.”
“Itchy fingers: New scratch-off Florida Lottery deal likely worth millions” via Florida Politics — A new contract to provide scratch-off tickets, just announced by the Florida Lottery and possibly worth as much as a quarter-billion dollars, could be decided during the lame-duck period of the RickScott administration. The Lottery earlier this week issued an ‘invitation to negotiate’ for a “new scratch-off gaming vendor contract,” spokeswoman ConnieBarnes explained in an email. “Our current contract is for five years (beginning in 2014) for approximately $50 million annually,” she said. “Obviously, we won’t have a number for the new contract until we complete the negotiation process,” Barnes added. “But, as always, our goal is to try and reduce that amount if possible through the implementation of new and improved efficiencies.”
“Insurers shun state health care website” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Members of a statewide advisory panel were told this week that the Agency for Health Care Administration is “in the process of working with” insurance giant Florida Blue on getting claims data to use for the long-promised website that is supposed to help consumers compare health care prices. But the State Consumer Health Information and Advisory Panel wasn’t told that other companies aren’t supplying the claims data that the site will rely on. AvMed, a Florida-based health maintenance organization, also is not submitting the information to the state … The companies that have refused to cooperate with the state have cited privacy and trade-secret concerns about sharing the information with the contractor responsible for creating the website.
“Lobbyists paid to pressure county officials skip filing required disclosures, audit says” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — Nearly 60 percent of registered lobbyists paid by private interests to influence Lee County commissioners and department heads have missed required filing of annual or quarterly statements on their activities, a county inspector general’s audit claimed. County employees had a much better record filing reports listing people who try to influence them. An audit by the Lee County Clerk of Court and inspector general has found that more than 95 percent of public employees complied with the county’s lobby log ordinance. The audit found 90 percent of the employees who filed the reports filled them out correctly.
“Beachgoers fall ill in Jupiter prompting PBC beach closures; expert points to red tide” via Kimberly Miller Joe Capozzi and Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post — Multiple people complained of respiratory, skin and eye irritations along beaches in Palm Beach County, prompting officials to close many public beaches from Jupiter to Lake Worth and prompting the Florida Department of Health to issue a 48-hour health advisory … symptoms beachgoers described are similar to those caused by red tide, the algae bloom that began on the west coast in October 2017 and peaked this summer with a massive loss of sea life in counties from Sarasota to Collier … “Everyone was coughing this morning,” said Maggie Scanlon, who was visiting Jupiter. “I was walking on the beach, and I had to pull the string hat I was wearing down over my mouth because I was coughing so bad.”
“Florida citrus growers on road to recovery after Hurricane Irma” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — A year later, many citrus growers are still picking up the pieces from Irma, but most are optimistic about the future. They’re moving ahead — many on shoestring budgets — with hope they soon will receive federal aid to help them recoup some of their crop losses. The Farm Service Agency is still accepting applications for disaster relief money through a new Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program, which will provide up to $2.36 billion in payments to offset producers’ losses in at least nine states with hurricane damage and other states impacted by wildfires. The agency began accepting applications in July, but the process has been slow and burdensome. The disaster aid will include $340 million through a block grant to help Florida citrus farmers recover. The money will help growers cover the cost of planting new trees, rehabilitating groves, and replacing damaged irrigation and other equipment — as well as make up for losses expected in the 2018 to 2020 seasons.
“About that internet cafe ban: News4Jax finds 94 in Jacksonville” via Jim Pigott of News4Jax — They’re called adult arcades. Formerly known as internet cafes, these businesses are in storefronts in almost every neighborhood in Jacksonville. Once banned by state law, the city of Jacksonville has issued permits for 94 of them. Hundreds more tried to open but never received permits. Earlier laws limited the number of these gaming businesses to 25, but It appears enforcement has looked the other way as they continue to operate and proliferate in Jacksonville. Councilman Al Ferraro told a group of council members he is proposing a moratorium on any new arcades until they get a handle on how to enforce the rules. “Of course it bothers me because you got people that are going around what should be done,” Ferraro said. “That is not what we will put in office to do. We are trying to uphold the law. We are trying to look out for the community.”
— OPINIONS —
“Help Florida. Elect Andrew Gillum as Governor” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — To understand why voters should choose Gillum over DeSantis for Governor, compare the candidates’ positions on issues important to Florida … Gillum wants the state to spend more on traditional public schools, especially on teacher salaries. That would help Florida. DeSantis wants to continue favoring charter schools, which educate just 10 percent of public-school students. Gillum recognizes that schools need more money. That’s a start. And he could stop some of the worst ideas the Legislature produces if enough Democrats are elected to at least one chamber to uphold a veto. Florida is an increasingly diverse state in which Rick Scott’s policies have left too many people behind and the state at risk. Florida needs a new attitude in Tallahassee. Help Florida. Elect Andrew Gillum.
“Andrew Gillum and Chris King are not a threat to Jews” via Ben Friedman for the Orlando Sentinel — In recent days, thousands of Jews (including myself) across Florida received an unsolicited text message containing an alarming accusation: that King, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor — and through association, Gillum — is anti-Semitic … I have seen no evidence that either the Democratic or the Republican nominees are anti-Semites. I hope DeSantis will swiftly and unequivocally condemn these tactics and make it clear that he does not approve of targeting and stereotyping any community in this abhorrent way. While insensitive comments about Jews offend me, falsely labeling King and Gillum as anti-Semitic to score political points offends me much more, not only as a Jewish person but as a Floridian who values honesty and decency in our political discourse. This gutter-level politics has no place in Florida — or anywhere.
“Deborah Thompson: Elections have consequences, like boosting Tallahassee real estate” via Florida Politics — We’re going to have a major turnover of top political figures in Florida’s statewide elections. There will also be some new state legislators and staff hired to support their work. So, there will be a corresponding massive turnover of hundreds of key senior level employees in state government offices throughout the capital city. It’s likely that many people will be recruited for important jobs from outside of Tallahassee — and when they’re set to move here to start work at the end of this year or early in 2019, they’ll need a place to live. For many, that could mean the purchase or long-term rental of a home. This election-year real estate reality creates a special boost period to our local residential sales market — and a meaningful opportunity for homeowners who want to sell or rent their home to win in this election. But to earn that ‘victory,’ it’s smart to immediately undertake the kind of ‘campaign’ necessary to win.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Jennifer Orsi to depart Tampa Bay Times — The newspaper’s managing editor announced her leaving via Twitter Friday. The 30-year veteran of The Times said she had taken a job as “senior manager for editorial content at Carillon Tower Advisers,” a global asset management firm that’s a subsidiary of Raymond James Financial. “I’m very excited for what I’ll be learning and the opportunities ahead. But I am so sad to leave my Times’ family,” Orsi tweeted. Her resignation comes a little more than a week after news that the Times’ Tallahassee bureau chief, SteveBousquet, would be quitting the paper after the November election. He has told confidants he’s not retiring, though he has not yet announced his future work plans.
— ALOE —
“Iguana knocks out power at Florida nursing home” via Bob D’Angelo of the Cox Media Group — The animal was electrocuted and ignited a fire on a power pole. That caused The Palms Care Center in Lauderdale Lakes to lose power, and 20 patients had to be moved to area hospitals … According to records at the Florida Department of Health, The Palms Care Center has 120 community beds and an on-site fixed generator. However, witnesses told WPLG that there was insufficient generator power.
Happy birthday from the weekend to David Bishop, Michael Cantens, Tracy Duda Chapman, Jason Gonzalez, Brian Graham, Steve Schale, state Rep. Clovis Watson and perennial runner-up in World’s Greatest Dad competition Chris Schoonover. Celebrating today is the always-sharp Ryan Banfill and Danielle Ochoa.
The two major parties are likely “actively recruiting” lawyers for any election-related disputes that arise Nov. 6.
That’s according to Dr. SusanMacManus, a retired University of South Florida political science professor, who moderated an election controversy panel during the 2018 Florida Bar Reporters’ Workshop this week.
Addressing a room of media, MacManus discussed with supervisors of elections and attorney MarkHerron the legal issues that come on Election Day.
Herron, familiar with the elections litigation process, said complications ranging from a polling location losing power to campaign activists violating distance restraints could spark legal action.
“Sometimes polling locations don’t open on time,” Herron added. “Recognize that, for these big elections, there’s an army of lawyers out there.”
The panelists — Polk County Supervisor of Elections LoriEdwards, Leon County Supervisor MarkEarley and Orange County Supervisor of Elections BillCowles — addressed a new report from the ACLU, released last week, suggesting vote-by-mail ballots cast by younger and minority voters are more likely to get rejected.
Edwards said her team takes “extra care” with every mail-in ballot, to ensure fraud doesn’t occur.
“It’s a very labor-intensive process,” Earley added, noting that issues stem from verifying signatures, which he suggests are more apt to change among younger voters.
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:
Scott talks red tide — Gov. RickScott called into a meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to discuss red tide, a naturally occurring toxic algae outbreak that is responsible for the massive fish and sea mammal kills happening along Florida’s Gulf Coast. “I know we’re not going to stop working until all of our communities recover,” Scott said, according to the News Service of Florida. “We all know that more has to be done.” Scott, reports the News Service, “repeated his call for the commission to create a Florida Center for Red Tide Research, re-establish the Florida Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force and request additional funding next year from the Legislature for red tide research.” On Thursday, Scott announced that another $3 million in red tide cleanup money went to Pinellas and Lee counties. That money is part of $13 million in DEP grant funding provided by the agency to communities impacted by red tide.
State responds to NRA anonymity dispute — Attorneys for the state recently filed a brief requesting the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals uphold a prior ruling that all listed parties be named in a National Rifle Association lawsuit challenging a state law. Not doing so would violate a federal court mandate, the state argues. Known now as Jane Doe and John Doe, the NRA seeks to shield the two plaintiffs’ identities, fearing “they would suffer harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence if their true identities and participation in this controversial litigation were made public,” according to an earlier brief filed by lawyers for the NRA. The Second Amendment group is challenging a state law that upped the rifle purchase age from 18 to 21 years old. The unnamed plaintiffs are 19 years old.
Scott responds to appointments lawsuit — In a response filed this week with the Supreme Court, lawyers for Scott contend the term-limited Governor has the authority to convene the Judicial Nominating Commission to float names for three soon-to-be vacancies on the high court. Scott’s power to do just that was challenged last week in a “writ of quo warranto” filed by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of Florida. The groups argued the nomination process could not start until the vacancies occur. Lawyers for Scott countered by arguing that judges have been appointed similarly in the past and jump-starting the nominating process now is essential to avoid extended judicial vacancies. Justices BarbaraPariente, R.FredLewis and PeggyQuince face mandatory retirement in January.
Chamber convenes on state concerns — The Florida Chamber of Commerce held its 2018 Future of Florida Forum this week, hosting leaders in government, business and technology to discuss the evolving needs of the Sunshine State. “Florida is changing. Our economics, our demographics and our politics are all changing, and these changes bring both opportunities and challenges,” Chamber CEO MarkWilson said. Delivering remarks were Gov. Scott, who was honored for his pro-business tenure, and CFO JimmyPatronis, who shared his anti-insurance fraud agenda. University of West Florida’s Dr. EmanEl–Sheikh was brought in to discuss cybersecurity, on which he is an expert. He suggested all businesses provide at least some form of cybersecurity training to help mitigate risks of data breaches.
State settles with Uber for $8.2M — Attorney General PamBondi announced this week that ride-sharing company Uber will pay the state $8,246,606 as part of a national settlement reached for a data breach. In 2016, hackers accessed data stored by Uber, including driver’s license information, according to Bondi’s office. The company tracked down the hackers and prevented the data from further spreading, but Uber ultimately did not report the breach to the state until a year later, “allegedly failing to comply with the Florida Information Protection Act and other related laws,” according to Bondi’s office. “Data breaches need to be dealt with in a very urgent and responsive manner,” Bondi said in a prepared statement. “Not only are they often serious crimes, but people with compromised information need to be alerted immediately, so they can take steps to guard against identity theft and financial losses. Hopefully, this settlement will send the clear message that faster reporting is essential.” In total, Uber will pay out $148 million to the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Bustamante’s scholarship legacy
Jereima “Jeri” Bustamante’s meaningful career and life will in part be remembered by a scholarship for aspiring high school seniors.
Gov. Scott announced the news this week at Miami Beach Senior High School, Bustamante’s alma mater.
Scott appointed Bustamante press secretary in 2014. She helped the Governor learn Spanish and often accompanied him on trips to South Florida. She was primed to support the Governor’s U.S. Senate campaign but died before its official launch.
According to Miami Dade Schools, the Jeri Bustamante Memorial Scholarship will cover two years of state college and two years of university tuition for a deserving student.
“This 4-year scholarship will help a student to live their American Dream,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “We’ll always remember Jeri & can think of no better way to honor her.”
Scott authorizes $50M opioid grant
The Department of Children and Families can begin using more than $50 million in federal grant money to fight the opioid epidemic, Gov. Scott announced this week.
The money will be used to increase access to treatment to reduce opioid overdoses. The grant funding will also “equip professionals with the necessary tools” to fight the drug scourge, according to the Governor’s Office. That includes more than 40,000 Naloxone kits.
“In Florida, we are standing with families who are fighting opioid addiction and will continue to find ways to help our communities and law enforcement agencies,” Scott said. “This more than $50 million in additional funding will provide important recovery services for many families and aid in our fight against the national opioid epidemic.”
The federal grant is in addition to the $65 million attached to landmark opioid legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Scott this year.
“The department remains committed to helping people who are living with an opioid use disorder, supporting their families, and equipping the treatment industry with the right tools for the most effective treatment,” DCF Interim Secretary RebeccaKapusta said.
Patronis helps Tampa firefighters
First responders in Hillsborough County received cancer-fighting decontamination kits this week, courtesy of the state’s chief fire marshal and CFO Patronis.
When many items catch fire, such as tires, the burning can produce cancer-causing compounds.
The kits, available through a partnership with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine will help mitigate firefighters’ exposure to such dangers.
In a statement, Patronis noted that cancer caused 70 percent of line-of-duty deaths in firefighters in 2016.
“These numbers are unacceptable and cancer prevalence in firefighters is not up for debate,” Patronis added. “We must continue to ensure these heroes have the tools needed to stay healthy and safe.”
The 70 kits delivered to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue are part of the more than 1,000 already delivered across the state. In all, 4,000 kits will be distributed throughout Florida.
State delivers food to Florence victims
Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner AdamPutnam said the state has delivered “thousands of servings of food” to victims of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.
The deliveries were made possible via a partnership between Florida and the United States Department of Agriculture.
The running tally: More than 122,000 pounds of fruits, vegetables and juice; nearly 46,000 pounds of meat, poultry, fish and protein-rich foods; and more than 12,000 pounds of whole grains and pasta, according to the state.
During emergencies, FDACS provides the necessary food and water to affected areas. North Carolina officials this week estimated the state took a hit of more than $1.1 billion to its agriculture industry.
“We knew the losses would be significant because it was harvest time for so many of our major crops and the storm hit our top six agricultural counties especially hard,” said North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner SteveTroxler. “These early estimates show just what a devastating and staggering blow this hurricane leveled at our agriculture industry.”
Patronis: Florida families should plan ahead for college
In his capacity as a watchdog over the state’s finances, Chief Financial Officer Patronis is reminding Floridians to prepare ahead for the financial burden associated with higher education.
His advice: Take advantage of the Florida Prepaid College Program.
“Florida’s public universities and state colleges continue to offer the best education for some of the lowest rates in the country,” Patronis said. “With student loan debt climbing each year, I encourage Florida families to take advantage of Florida’s Prepaid College Program to help their children become debt-free adults.”
According to data cited by Patronis, the average graduating student in 2016 owes more than $37,000. The default rate for those students is 10 percent.
“I’m advocating for the Legislature to hold the line on tuition rates so that education can remain an affordable option,” Patronis said.
This week, Gov. Scott announced the following appointments and reappointments:
Commission on Ethics
WillieMeggs, 75, of Tallahassee, is a former State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. Meggs also served as Leon County Deputy with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and has served as President of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending June 30, 2019. GarrettRichter, 68, of Naples is the President and Chief Executive Officer of First Florida Integrity Bank. He is a former State Representative and Senate President Pro Tempore. Richter served both in the U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve and was awarded a Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending June 30, 2020. The appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors
William Kastroll, 47, of Naples, is the owner of Harbour Insurance, LLC. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending July 31, 2019.
Department of Elderly Affairs Advisory Council
Kerry Marsalek, of Clearwater, is the manager for the Clearwater Office on Aging. She is reappointed for a term ending Sept. 30, 2020. Dr. Mohammad Choudhry, 52, of Leesburg, is a neurophysician. He is reappointed for a term ending Sept. 30, 2019.
Santa Fe College District Board of Trustees
Caridad Lee, 67, of Alachua, is the owner and president of Florida Blue Farms. She received her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from the University of Florida and a second master’s degree from Loyola University. Lee is reappointed for a term ending May 31, 2022. Robert Woody, 65, of Gainesville, is director of youth services at the Gainesville Police Department. He received his bachelor’s degree from State University at Oneonta and his master’s degree from Rollins College. Woody is reappointed for a term ending May 31, 2022. Jeffery Oody, 49, of Starke, is the president and chief executive officer of Community State Bank. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida, his master’s degree from Liberty University, and his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Oody is reappointed for a term ending May 31, 2022. These are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees
Philip Ward, 63, of Jupiter, is the managing partner and attorney at Ward Damon, Attorneys at Law. He received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his juris doctorate from the University of Miami Law School. Ward succeeds JohnDowd and is appointed for a term ending May 31, 2022. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
Highlands County Housing Authority
Tod Schwingel, 56, of Sebring, is the senior minister at Sebring Christian Church. He is reappointed for a term ending June 14, 2022. DeborahWood, 59, of Avon Park, is a resource teacher for the Highlands County School Board. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending June 14, 2021.
District Medical Examiners
Dr. David Stewart, 60, of Tallahassee, is the chief medical examiner of District 2. He is reappointed for a term ending July 1, 2021. Dr. Rebecca Hamilton, 53, of Alva, is the chief medical examiner of District 21. She is reappointed for a term ending July 1, 2020.
Florida Developmental Disabilities Council
Bobbie Lake, 73, of Live Oak, is the former executive director of The Arc North Florida, Inc. He succeeds RonniBianco and is appointed for a term ending Sept. 30, 2019. LisaMiller, 41, of Lakeland, is a volunteer and advocate for persons with disabilities. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending Sept. 30, 2019. AllisonFlanagan, 47, of Tallahassee, is the director of vocational rehab for the Florida Department of Education. She succeeds AlesiaMcKinlay and is appointed for a term ending at the pleasure of the Governor. CherieHall, 48, of Tallahassee, is the chief financial officer of Disability Rights Florida. She succeeds MaryellenMcDonald and is appointed for a term ending at the pleasure of the Governor. Cassandra G. Pasley, of Tallahassee, is the director of the division or children’s medical services for the Florida Department of Health. She fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending at the pleasure of the Governor.
Hernando County Housing Authority
Paul H. Sullivan, 73, of Hernando Beach, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and former county commissioner for Hernando County. He is reappointed for a term ending Aug. 1, 2022.
Polk County Board of County Commissioners
RickWilson fills a vacancy created by the resignation of MelonyBell. Wilson, 65, of Bartow, is a small-business owner. He is a member of the Polk County Cattleman’s Association, Florida Cattleman’s Association and Rotary International. He is appointed for a term beginning Oct. 1.
DEO launches Rebuild Florida
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will provide $616 million to help Floridians rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irma.
The effort, Rebuild Florida, is part of a partnership between the state and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Federal disaster money will flow through Rebuild Florida centers, the first of which opened this week in the Florida Keys, an area that suffered extensive damage as Irma swept through the state in 2017.
State Rep. HollyRaschein, of the Keys area, said she’s “excited to have these resources available for our residents as we continue our long-term recovery and work to make sure the Florida Keys come back better and stronger than ever.”
Rebuild Florida locations are listed here. More information is available here.
Joyner named to Ruth’s List board
Former state Sen. ArtheniaJoyner was appointed this week to the board of Ruth’s List Florida.
The Tampa Democrat, a former Senate Democratic Leader, is credited with breaking racial and gender barriers throughout her career. According to Ruth’s List, Joyner was the first black woman to serve in the Legislature since Reconstruction and first to practice law in Hillsborough and Polk counties. She is the longest practicing black woman lawyer in the history of Florida.
“I am very happy to join the Board of Directors of Ruth’s List Florida,” Joyner said. “Not only because it represents the chance to continue public service, but because this pioneering organization is dedicated to ensuring that ALL members of the public are truly served.
“I look forward to continuing that mission, and helping women take their rightful position in our democracy, representing the Citizens of Florida.”
“Ruth’s List Florida is honored and thrilled to add the Honorable Arthenia Joyner to our organization’s strong leadership,” PamelaGoodman, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida, said.
“She has served Florida citizens throughout her life, but women especially have benefited from her wisdom, courage and determination for equal and civil rights. Her contribution to our team is going to be a priceless addition.”
Ruth’s List supports pro-choice, Democratic women running for office. It has funneled $5 million to candidates since its founding in 2008.
Florida Bar recognizes journalists
The Florida Bar honored journalists this week during an evening reception on the 22nd floor of the Capitol.
The awards, which take the namesake of the late attorney ParkerThompson, recognized state-based reporters for work related to the legal field. Thompson died in 2017 after a meaningful career that included work on behalf of the Miami Herald in critical cases that preserved the First Amendment right of the press.
Taking home prizes in print were the Miami Herald’s CarolMarbinMiller and AudraD.S. Burch for their widely recognized “Fight Club” series that exposed the state’s violent and troubled juvenile justice system.
The second-place print award went DanSullivan of the Tampa Bay Times for his reporting on juvenile sentencing.
In the television category, WESH’s GregFox received the first-place honor for his series, “Veterans, Mental Health & Guns.” WTSP’s NoahPransky was awarded second place for “Florida Texting Laws.”
In radio, WLRN’s WilsonSayre was honored for “Cell: Florida’s Death Penalty in Limbo,” which examined the state’s death penalty laws and effect on prisoners.
Florida manufacturers celebrated
The Manufacturers Association of Florida honored four Sunshine State product makers at a recent awards banquet in St. Petersburg.
The association received a record amount of nominations this year. A statewide panel judged each nominee on leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, measurement, analysis and knowledge management, workforce focus and operations.
Securing the award in the Small Manufacturer category was Pelican Wire of Naples. BASF of Quincy topped the Medium Manufacturer category; Sandvik Mining and Construction USA of Alachua took home the award in the Large Manufacturer category; and Mettler Toledo of Lutz, with more than 501 employees, topped the list in the Extra-Large Manufacturer category.
“These winners truly rose above the ranks of their competition and reminded us the industry is at a turning point in history,” said AmandaBowen, executive director of MAF. “Manufacturing is being disrupted by technology changes, economic regulations, gender roles and culture shifts.
“Each of our winners demonstrated an ability to challenge these issues in a respectable way, all while making significant strides in their sector and raising the bar for manufacturing in Florida.”
Nominations for next year’s awards will be accepted beginning Spring 2019. More information is available here.
Publix expands HQ
The Publix headquarters in Lakeland will add 700 more jobs by the end of 2027, the grocery giant announced this week.
Publix President and CEO ToddJones, who was joined by Gov. Scott in announcing the expansion, said the move is the result of a loyal customer base and dedicated associates.
“These additional jobs will help us support our store associates as they continue to provide the premier service our customers expect,” Jones added. “We are proud of the role we continue to play in the great state of Florida.”
The Florida-based company was founded in 1930 by GeorgeJenkins. It currently boasts 1,198 store locations across the southeastern U.S. and employs more than 190,000 people.
“Publix is one of Florida’s greatest success stories, and we’re proud of their growth,” Scott said.
Insurers highlight ‘bad faith’ study
New research shows third-party bad faith lawsuits added an average of $106 in claim costs to every insured vehicle in Florida in 2017.
That has caught the attention of the regional chapter of Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, or PCI.
“Florida continues to be the worst state in the country for bad faith litigation abuse,” said regional PCI manager LoganMcFaddin. “Frivolous lawsuits, often targeting automobile insurers, create unnecessary expenses that place a heavy burden on consumers.”
The study referenced, conducted by the Insurance Research Council, estimates bad faith suits have resulted in $7.6 billion in additional claim costs over the past 12 years.
“It’s clear we need to look for a legislative answer that protects the public and prevents needless lawsuits from being filed by third parties looking to make money off consumers,” added McFaddin.
“Now is the time to start looking for a solution that potentially shields Floridians from higher insurance costs, combats abuse, and prevents lawsuits from clogging up the court system.”
FSU professor to study Native American health
JohnLowe, a decorated nursing professor at Florida State University, has received a $1.275 million federal grant to examine ways to reduce health risk among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
Lowe’s work will be Florida-centric, focusing on urban areas in the state. He aims to find prevention research for substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis among young adults belonging to the races as mentioned earlier.
“There remain enduring health disparities, substantial service gaps and a large, unmet need for state of the science prevention for substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis among urban American Indian and Alaska Native young adults in Florida,” Lowe said.
The results of the project, funded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, should “contribute significantly and meaningfully to closing this gap,” Lowe added.
“Lowe’s work in reducing health risks such as substance abuse, HIV and hepatitis is a vital area of public health research,” FSU Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander said.
FSU gets violence prevention grant
A $300,000 grant is on its way to Florida State University to encourage prevention and response to personal violence.
Specifically, the money is tailored to curb “power-based personal violence” on campus, which encompasses sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
“This grant is a big win for Florida State University,” said AngelaChong, associate vice president for Student Affairs. “It certainly positions Florida State as a leader in the prevention of power-based personal violence.”
The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice and in part will fund a project drafted by University Health Services: “Collective Empowerment: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Caring for Tallahassee College Students.”
It seeks to “ensure that information on resources, awareness events and programming,” according to the university.
“Our upcoming initiatives through this grant will demonstrate that these crimes will not be tolerated,” interim UHS director AmyMagnuson said. “They will send a clear message that perpetrators will be held accountable and that holistic services are available for survivors.”
I believe her – and not because she came forward even after admitting in her opening statement that she was “terrified” to testify to the U.S. Senate committee that will recommend whether Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court should go forward. I admire the stand she took and the way she handled herself, but only she can say if it was worth the cost. Her life has been a living hell since she came forward – and will continue to be. That’s what this process does to people, and it’s disgusting.
What about the man she says committed that vile deed as a boy?
Kavanaugh’s anguish was clear during his combative and emotional opening statement. You would have to be a helluva actor to fake that kind of pain. It was hard not to feel sympathy for him when he said he and his family have been “totally and permanently destroyed” by the resulting furor after Ford came forward. I have no doubt that it’s true.
A reputation, once lost, is hard to recover.
And as far as the Senate? Big losers.
That is really what it comes down to – the attitude that many in the party of Donald Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh, seem to have toward women and what they endure. They attack the victim. They dismiss. They smear.
What about what the nation has endured, and how divided it will be after this?
Find one. I sure can’t.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@AndrewGillum: This testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is difficult to hear. I can only imagine the fortitude & courage she has to muster to tell her story! Thank you for your example. We stand with you.
—@RepTedDeutch: This hearing is about finding the truth. If @LindseyGrahamSC doesn’t think it’s worth time to hear a victim tell her story or have Kavanaugh answer her allegations then he shouldn’t be determining who is on the Supreme Court.
—@RepValDemings: Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is not just about men and women. It’s about wealth and status, & certain people thinking they can get away with anything. Well, no one is above the law and with the strength of the #MeToo movement, women’s voices are more powerful than ever.
—@JaredMoskowitz: .@CoryBooker was the only Democrat prepared and great today in cross-examination of @BrettKavanaugh. The amount of time spent on the yearbook was malpractice. He will get confirmed.
—@TheRickWilson: Trump hates crying. Just saying.
—@BCApplebaum: What is the possible justification for carefully cross-examining every detail of Ford’s recollections while refusing to examine [Mark] Judge or any other witnesses?
—@PamelaColloff: Rachel Mitchell questioning Christine Blasey Ford about her mental health is one of the ugliest and most shameful things I’ve ever seen. Women deserve better, crime victims deserve better, and a prosecutor should know better.
—@AGlorios: The fact that harassment is not a crime is one of the main reasons Jack Latvala was not prosecuted by the state attorney for his actions against Laura McLeod.
—@Fineout: Ed reporters noted it, but a significant K12 development happened yesterday that is angering some Hispanic groups. After months and months, US Ed Commissioner DeVos approved Florida’s education accountability plan even though Fla. continues to refuse to offer its tests in Spanish
—@NewsBySmiley: Judge Marcia Cooke today granted former Congressman David Rivera’s motion to dismiss an FEC case alleging campaign violations in the Justin Lamar Sternad “ringer” campaign. Plaintiffs will usually file motion to amend, etc. But unknown RN how FEC will proceed
—@FLGovScott: Today, @FLAnnScott & I were proud to dedicate the Jeri Bustamante Memorial Scholarship for a student at @MBSeniorHigh. This 4-year scholarship will help a student to live their American Dream. We’ll always remember Jeri & can think of no better way to honor her.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Government shutdown — 3; FSU vs. UM football game — 8; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 12; MLB World Series begins — 27; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 27; Early voting begins — 29; Halloween — 33; General Election Day — 39; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 50; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 53; Thanksgiving — 55; Black Friday — 56; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 60; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 137; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 158; Captain Marvel release — 161; 2020 General Election — 767.
— TOP STORY —
“Donald Trump is driving women voters in Florida to Democrats. What will Brett Kavanaugh do?” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — Already Republicans in Florida face an ominous shift toward the Democrats from women, who make up a majority of the electorate. That’s largely because of disenchantment with Trump, but the Kavanaugh nomination threatens to antagonize or drive even more women from the GOP. “I’m absolutely concerned about the Republicans at the top of the ballot in Florida,” said April Schiff, a Republican political consultant in Tampa. “The hard-core Republicans will vote for any candidate with an R next to their name. The problem is that Democratic women will turn out stronger than Republican women do. That’s just a reality. They’re more energized.”
— GOP ALL-STAR WEEKEND —
Happy Friday — if you’re a RonDeSantis fundraising All-Star, you need no reminder.
The Republican nominee’s finance team will be welcoming guests this afternoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for the “7th Inning Stretch” All-Stars Finance Retreat this weekend.
From 6-7 p.m. tonight, the financiers will enjoy cocktails at the resort’s Napa Room. Afterward, during dinner at the California Grill, they’ll hear about DeSantis’ campaign strategies, including polling and messaging.
Tee times begin at 6:54 a.m. on Saturday morning. DeSantis backers can put their golf skills to test at Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, which has hosted the PGA Tour before. All golfers will have the opportunity to play against DeSantis (no word on whether he fudges his score.)
Alternatively, All-Stars have can attend Disney World with a VIP pass, allowing them to skip lines.
The crescendo of the weekend: The Republican Victory Dinner at the Grand Floridian Resort, when VIPs can grab a photo with DeSantis before wining and dining into the home stretch of the election.
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“Hillary Clinton to campaign for Andrew Gillum Oct. 23 in South Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida —The exact location of Clinton‘s stop, or stops, is not clear; Gillum‘s campaign said it’s still working out logistics. “So honored to announce that we’ll campaign with @HillaryClinton on October 23 here in the Sunshine State. Let’s #BringItHome!” Gillum announced on Twitter. Clinton will arrive before the Oct. 27 start of in-person early voting, which has been particularly popular with African-Americans and Democrats. It could also leave room on Gillum’s calendar for another marquee name, potentially either former President Barack Obama or former first lady Michelle Obama, who remain wildly popular in the Democratic Party.
Gillum releases Spanish ads on health care — The Gillum campaign released two television ads in Spanish — “Better Future” and “Medical Care.” “Better Future” highlights that families should not live in fear of not having access to health care. And as Governor, Andrew Gillum vows he would fight Trump and DeSantis’ policies and work to expand Medicaid for 800,000 Floridians so that everyone has access to health care. “Medical Care” sheds light on the relationship between DeSantis and Trump as well as DeSantis’ unyielding loyalty to advancing Trump’s disastrous policies on health care.
“Ron DeSantis gets gambling money in Florida gov race, but won’t discuss gaming views” via Ana Ceballos and Melanie Payne of the Naples Daily News — DeSantis so far has received more than $800,000 from dog track operators and casino owners, including GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, who also has pursued a Florida destination casino. Adelson, an early DeSantis supporter, serves on his campaign finance committee. DeSantis’ political inner circle also includes two Tallahassee lobbyists, Scott Ross and Nick Iarossi, whose clients include gambling operators. Some have contributed to DeSantis. The lobbyists also represent the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, a national group bankrolled by Adelson that seeks to outlaw online betting. DeSantis, who resigned his congressional seat on Sept. 10 to focus on his campaign for governor, used some of the coalition’s arguments when raising concerns about Internet gambling in Congress last year.
“Who is Adam Corey, the man at the heart of Tallahassee’s FBI probe?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — In his campaign to become Florida’s next governor, Gillum almost never mentions Corey, and he’s cut off contact with him. But for more than a decade, the two were good friends. Corey was his campaign treasurer. The two vacationed together, and their personal relationship sometimes overlapped with city business. What’s left of the friendship is a lingering suspicion on Gillum’s part about whether Corey betrayed him by intentionally exposing him to undercover FBI agents. Gillum and Corey go back to their college years, when Gillum was active in student government. Gillum’s ties to Corey didn’t stop him from traveling together. Various media reports show that Gillum and Corey traveled with or met up with each other a handful of times in 2015 and 2016 … Since those trips, Corey has found himself at the center of the FBI investigation. Federal officials have served multiple subpoenas on Tallahassee city hall requesting records relating to a variety of people and businesses, including Corey and two of his businesses. One of those businesses is the Edison, the restaurant that received the CRA funding. The FBI has yet to charge anyone, and Gillum says that agents have assured him he’s neither a target nor a focus of the probe.
Happening today — Republican Party of Florida begins a two-day quarterly meeting through Saturday night, capped by a “Victory Dinner.” The event begins 9 a.m., Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“New Rick Scott ad touts ‘Leadership’ during Hurricane Irma” via Florida Politics — Scott‘s latest ad reflects on his response to Hurricane Irma as it struck Florida last year. The 30-second spot, “Leadership,” is replete with clips of new anchors highlighting the danger of the storm, along with Scott’s warnings issued to residents as the storm closed in. Indeed, Scott was consistent in ringing the alarm bell pre-Irma, calling the Hurricane “the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen.” The Scott campaign also highlighted comments from sheriffs across the state praising Scott for his response to the storm.
Happening today — Statewide candidates and political committees face a filing deadline for campaign finance reports showing activity through Sept. 21.
“Jimmy Patronis: Florida is nimble, ready to respond to future challenges” via Florida Politics — Florida CFO Patronis, the only Cabinet member able to run for re-election in the fall, recapped his first year on the job in a talk at the 2018 Future of Florida Forum. “Just over a year ago Gov. Scott called me in June and asked me if I would consider being the CFO for the state of Florida,” he said. “I never asked for it, I never lobbied for it.” He was only on the job for a couple months when Hurricane Irma hit Florida shores, which he called his “trial by fire.” In the aftermath of the Category 5 storm, Patronis’ office was tasked with making sure fraudsters and scammers didn’t get between storm victims and the relief they needed. “Under Rick Scott’s leadership we’ve paid down $10 billion in state debt and cut taxes by $10 billion,” he said. “If that’s not worth some applause I don’t know what is.” … reduced debt led to Florida earning a AAA bond rating, which Patronis said makes the state more “nimble” and able to respond to future crises.
Endorsement roundup: The Miami Herald is throwing its weight behind NikkiFried in the race for Agriculture Commissioner. The Herald’s editorial team writes that Fried “brings a wealth of ideas to propel the department forward and to better fulfill its role.” Fried, a Democrat, will face Republican Agriculture Commissioner hopeful MattCaldwell on Nov. 6.
“Stephanie Murphy endorsed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The pro-business group cited her “bipartisan voting record and numerous legislative accomplishments on behalf of small business owners and entrepreneurs,” the Murphy campaign said in a statement. “Congresswoman Murphy understands what it takes to start, grow, and turn around a business in America, which is why she has shown such strong leadership on issues like infrastructure, immigration, and investing in small businesses,” Ken Johnson, executive director of Congressional and Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber, said in a statement.
“Don’t ‘worry,’ be healthy: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell drops new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The 30-second spot, titled “Worry,” features Mucarsel-Powell spelling out her goals for America’s health care system while jabbing at past Republican proposals. “No one should have to worry whether they can afford to see a doctor, buy a prescription or recover from an illness,” Mucarsel-Powell says. “We Democrats are fighting to stop insurance companies from charging people with pre-existing conditions more, stop them from charging people over 50 an age tax, and take on the drug companies to bring costs down.”
Barbara Cady releases new ad in HD 42 race — The video takes incumbent Mike LaRosa to task for his failure to improve education, fix health care, or stand up to Trump‘s racism in his easily forgettable six years in office. “When I’m talking with constituents, they want bold action to address the issues we face,” Cady said. “Mike LaRosa has been a yes-man for Tallahassee special interests these last six years. Voters are ready for something new — someone who will work for them and who shares their values.” … “Voters are fired up and ready for something new,” Cady added.
Happening today — Republican Former state Rep. Ray Pilon holds a campaign event in his bid for Sarasota County’s House District 72, 5:30 p.m., Extra Innings, 717 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota. Pilon faces incumbent Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —
Voters in Charge staffs up in Tampa Bay — The political committee sponsoring the statewide Yes on 3 campaign, a constitutional amendment proposed to give voters the right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in Florida, unveiled its Tampa Bay-area leadership committees — Tampa Bay Regional Chairs: Will Weatherford, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives; Judy Wise, former Chair of the Plant City Women’s Federated Republican Club; Cesar Hernandez, Managing Partner Publicus Group. Tampa Bay Regional Committee Members: State Rep. Danny Burgess; Mark Sharpe, former Hillsborough County Commissioner; Christian Leon, Managing Partner at Publicus Group; Andrew Machota, Founder of NewTown Connections; Erin Aebel, Partner at Shumaker, Loop, & Kendrick, LLP; James Chan, Chapter Director of New Leaders Council; Roberto Torres, President of Blind Tiger Coffee Roasters Black & Denim Apparel Company; Dee Williams, former President of the Sun City Center Republican Club; Barclay Harless, market leader for Tampa, St. Petersburg Bank of OZK; Andy Brouillard, general manager at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre; Kelly Mothershead, Communications Assistant at Pepin Academies Pasco Campus.
National military veterans’ organization announce support for Amendment 4 — Amendment 4, the voting restoration amendment on Floridians’ ballot this November, has received the endorsement of the nationwide veterans’ group VoteVets, backed by more than 500,000 veterans, military family members and their supporters, VoteVets works to support issues that impact veterans and active military members. Jerry Green, Florida Coordinator for VoteVets, said: “We believe that when a person has paid their debt in full, they deserve a second chance. That includes the many military veterans who have faced difficulties and had substance abuse or other legal issues after their military service and are now permanently banned from participating in our democracy. VoteVets is proud to support Amendment 4.”
“Marsy’s Law group launches new TV ad supporting Amendment 6” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new 30-second commercial, “You Don’t Have the Right,” enacts a scene of a late-night arrest of an angry- and strong-looking man being led to a police car in handcuffs, while a bleeding, bruised, and terrified-looking woman sits watching on the back of an emergency medical services vehicle. “Our newest ad focuses on the rights the accused and convicted have versus the rights provided to the victim,” Greg Ungru, Marsy’s Law for Florida state director, states in a news release issued by that organization. “We are all familiar with the Miranda Rights read to someone when they are arrested. Most Floridians are shocked to find out crime victims in our state aren’t automatically provided similar rights and protections.”
“Universities projects under scrutiny” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In a letter to the 12 universities and their boards of trustees, Board of Governors Chairman Ned Lautenbach asked the schools to “undertake a review of the funding sources for all university capital projects approved by a board of trustees since July 1, 2008.” The board oversees the state university system. “Similar to the process the University of Central Florida is implementing, we ask that the president, the chief financial officer and the general counsel certify to the board of trustees and to the Board of Governors that the funding sources used were legally available for the projects as authorized in (state law) or as otherwise authorized in the general appropriations act,” Lautenbach’s letter said. In addition, the Board of Governors is making arrangements with an outside firm to conduct an “independent review of university financial controls and processes.” The board’s actions come after a state audit determined in August that UCF had improperly used $38 million in state funding to construct a campus building.
“Cybersecurity training could be a boon for Florida’s future workforce” via Florida Politics — “The average cost of a data breach is $3.62 million — that’s a worldwide average,” said Eman El-Sheik, the director of the Center for Cybersecurity at the University of West Florida. “A lot of businesses say ‘where do [we] start?’” El-Sheik said. “There’s a lot of good resources and best practices available.” El-Sheik’s talk was part of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum. On Wednesday the Chamber released its “Florida 2030” research report and among its findings was the need to create another 1.7 million jobs to support the state’s booming population. “Right now, we have 13,000 cybersecurity jobs that are unfilled in Florida — these are jobs that have an average starting wage of $85,000,” El-Sheik said, adding that by 2030 the nationwide cybersecurity deficit will be in the millions.
“Publix to grow corporate HQ headcount by 700 in Lakeland” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Lakeland headquarters is home to 1,400 associates, Publix CEO Todd Jones said. “To say we’re busting at the seams would be an understatement.” Publix is approved to receive a qualified target industry refund through the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity if it adds 700 jobs and invests $25 million in capital improvements, according to state records. The growth of the Lakeland headquarters comes as Publix has been rapidly expanding its retail footprint throughout the Southeast. Each new store opening creates roughly 100 jobs, the bulk of which are at support facilities like its headquarters.
“Health care transparency effort lags” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Scott convinced legislators to set aside $3.5 million to create a new website and to create a claims database that would allow Floridians to shop around when it comes to health care. But with Scott ready to leave the governor’s office, the health care price information still isn’t available to Florida consumers. And it’s not clear when it will be. Members of a state panel were told that the Scott administration “doesn’t have an established timeline for the launch.” Also, the state’s largest health insurance company, Florida Blue, hasn’t started submitting data.
“Florida gets share of Uber data breach settlement” via the News Service of Florida — Florida is getting $8.2 million of a $148 million, multistate settlement with ride-sharing company Uber Technologies over a massive 2016 data breach. Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the state’s share of a settlement with Florida and 49 other states and the District of Columbia, triggered by the app-based company’s yearlong delay in notifying 600,000 Uber drivers that hackers had gained access to their personal data, including driver’s license numbers. Uber later tracked down the hackers and “obtained assurances” that they had deleted and never distributed the information.
“Citizens CEO: Policy count ‘stable’” via the News Service of Florida — Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway told board members that efforts the past few years to shed less risky policies into the private market have slowed, which is a sign the “depopulation” efforts continue to work effectively. The policy count, which peaked at nearly 1.5 million in November 2012, has hovered around 443,000 the past 18 months, Gilway said. “We’ve really reached a very stable point,” despite increases in litigation in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, Gilway said. An electronic clearinghouse that compares new and renewing policies with what’s available on the private market has helped to offset an increase of 85,000 new Citizens personal lines policies in South Florida, Gilway said.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“More Problem-Solvers members pledge to tie Speaker vote to rule changes” via Lindsey McPherson of Roll Call — Trying to show their push to amend House rules to create more bipartisan legislative processes is serious, the Problem Solvers Caucus announced that 19 of its members are willing to oppose any Speaker candidate who won’t bring about change. The nine Republican members who have taken the pledge are, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Tom Reed of New York, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Leonard Lance of New Jersey, John Katko of New York, Fred Upton of Michigan and Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania. The bipartisan caucus unveiled a package of proposed House rules changes in July called “Break the Gridlock” and has been coalescing support for it on both sides of the aisle. Some of the caucus members have decided to add some oomph to their sales pitch by pledging not to support a candidate for speaker unless that person commits to enacting the rules package.
“Carlos Curbelo to vote no on Speaker of the House without lawmaking changes” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald —The rule changes that the centrist lawmakers are demanding from either party’s leadership include opening up amendments to change bills, making it easier for bills with bipartisan support to get a full vote and limiting the ability of a rogue group lawmakers to oust a sitting speaker, like conservative Freedom Caucus members did to John Boehner in 2015. The lawmakers are banking on either party winning a small majority in the November elections, meaning 9 or 10 votes could make the difference for minority leader Nancy Pelosi, majority leader Kevin McCarthy, or whoever else emerges as the front-runner for the Speaker’s job. “We’re at a critical point in our country’s politics, and I’m proud to stand with colleagues from both parties to make Congress and its leaders work more effectively for the American people,” Curbelo said.
— MOVEMENTS —
Appointed — Rick Wilson to the Polk County Board of County Commissioners; William Kastroll to Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Board of Governors; Caridad Lee, Robert Woody, and Jeffery Oody (all reappointed) to the Santa Fe College District Board of Trustees; Philip Ward to Palm Beach State College District Board of Trustees.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs, Natalie King, Ron Pierce, RSA Consulting Group: Family Health Source
Michael Cantens, Flagler Strategies: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Seth McKeel, Sydney Ridley, Monte Stevens, Southern Strategy Group: Equian
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a panel of Tampa Bay-area college students: Malique Ferrette from St. Petersburg College; Aida Vazquez-Soto from the University of South Florida; Eva Ernst from the New College-Sarasota; Travis Politakis from the University of Tampa.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion of Amendment 1 and how the homestead property tax exemption changes may affect Floridians. Joining Walker-Torres are Florida state Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton; Dana Blickley, Brevard County Property Appraiser; and Bob Henriquez, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: State Sen. Dana Young will discuss her campaign as the challenge from state Rep. Janet Cruz for Senate District 18; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made by Trump about libel law; plus, the latest on new allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The Usual Suspectson WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will speak with Bob McClure of the James Madison Institute and Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: A special one-hour edition focusing on the 50th anniversary of Jacksonville’s consolidation — becoming the Bold New City of the South. Guests include former Jacksonville Mayors Jake Godbold (1978-1987), Tommy Hazouri (1987-1991), John Delaney (1995-2003), John Peyton (2003-2011), Alvin Brown (2011-2015) and current Mayor Lenny Curry (2015-present). Also appearing is Rick Mullaney, director of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the upcoming November elections; the roundtable will take on the week’s news.
— ALOE —
“Disney Cruise line unveils cruises, destinations in 2020: Hawaii, New Orleans, Caribbean” via Dave Berman and Jennifer Sangalang of FLORIDA TODAY — In early 2020, Disney Cruise Line will establish a new home port in New Orleans. The cruise line also announced a highly anticipated return to the Hawaiian Islands; cruises out of Puerto Rico; and popular itineraries to tropical destinations from Florida and California. Disney Cruise Line said its first-ever sailings out of New Orleans, starting in February 2020, will be on the Disney Wonder. The cruise line also said it would continue to base its two largest ships — the Dream and the Fantasy — at Port Canaveral. The sailing schedule extends from January through May 2020.
“Lyft, HART and Zipcar offer ditch-the-car challenge” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The partnership is offering nearly $500 in transportation credits for drivers to use the three services in lieu of a private passenger vehicle for 30 days, Oct. 8 to Nov. 6. Drivers can register for the promotion at a special website designed for the partnership by Lyft. “The way that people move around cities is changing faster than ever, and we are excited to challenge Tampa residents to change their everyday habits and give up their car for a month,” said Sam Cohen, General Manager for Lyft Florida. “Lyft alone is not the overall solution to overcome transportation hurdles, but by partnering with Zipcar and HART we are able to create mobility options for Tampa residents.”
Happy birthday to former state Rep. Hazelle Rogers.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Thursday testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, considering the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court, unsurprisingly evoked strong reaction from Florida Democrats.
Take Florida Senate Democratic Leader-designate Audrey Gibson, who said “the nation has just witnessed the incredible testimony of a victim of sexual violence …
“Dr. Ford’s testimony was credible and convincing,” she said. “Given what we’ve learned today, there is no choice … but to pull Kavanaugh’s nomination from consideration. The fact that he is even under consideration is an affront to women’s issues that may come before the highest court in the land.”
Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor AndrewGillum said that “today we saw Dr. Ford commit an act of bravery on the most difficult stage imaginable.
“Her courage resonated with millions of women around the country and world, who deal with their abusers freely going about their lives every single day … Justice Kavanaugh should withdraw his nomination after the world heard Dr. Ford’s compelling and sworn testimony,” he said.
And Democratic Nominee for Attorney General SeanShaw said Thursday “is a historic day for men and women all across this country.
“Victims of assault and sexual harassment deserve to be heard,” Shaw said. “Dr. Ford’s courage and bravery in coming forward should be saluted. I stand by Dr. Ford and by all victims of sexual assault. The days of silencing victims are over.
“I believe Dr. Ford. The White House should withdraw the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.”
For his part, Kavanaugh told committee members: “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”
“Many of these people are basically socialists. Well, they make money, but they don’t want that for anybody else.” — GOP candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis, railing against billionaire Democratic donors George Soros, Tom Steyer and others.
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Statewide candidates and political committees face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Sept. 21.
The Republican Party of Florida will hold a two-day quarterly meeting that will be capped Saturday night with a “Victory Dinner.” That’s at 9 a.m., Disney’s Contemporary Resort, 4600 North World Dr., Lake Buena Vista.
The state’s Division of Emergency Management will hold a workshop about the process for citrus growers to apply for federal aid stemming from damage sustained by the industry in Hurricane Irma. That’s at 9 a.m. Dallas Townsend Center, 1085 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.
Former state Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican, will hold a campaign event as he runs in Sarasota County’s House District 72. Pilon is seeking to unseat Democratic Rep. Margaret Good in the Nov. 6 election. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Extra Innings, 717 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota.
A memorial service will be held for former 4th District Court of Appeal Judge George Shahood, who died Sept. 12 at age 80. That’s Saturday, 11 a.m., St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 623 S.E. Ocean Blvd., Stuart.
The Republican Party of Florida holds a “Victory Dinner” that includes gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott. Also expected to appear are state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis; AshleyMoody, who is running for attorney general; and MattCaldwell, who is running for agriculture commissioner. That’s Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 4401 Floridian Way, Lake Buena Vista.
Gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum takes part in the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s “Blue Gala” dinner. Former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary JulianCastro will give a keynote address. That’s Saturday, 7 p.m., Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.
Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Day One of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum outlined the hurdles facing the Sunshine State over the next decade, and day two is when the state’s business and elected leaders start taking stock of what the state has to work with to meet those challenges.
The second half of the forum kicks off with a presentation by Jerry Parrish, the Chamber’s chief economist, outlining Florida’s current “scorecard” when it comes to everything from jobs and unemployment to tourism and consumer sentiment.
After that, there’s a well-stocked agenda of experts who will give deep dives into every aspect of Florida’s present and its future.
Department of Economic Opportunity head Cissy Proctor will talk jobs; Mike Myhre, CEO Florida Small Business Development Center Network, will speak on the state of small businesses; Kevin Carr of FloridaMakes will expound on Florida’s manufacturing sector; and Vince Bertram, President & CEO of Project Lead The Way, will outline how companies can get off the sidelines and start pitching in on education.
Education, more specifically the development of a workforce with 21st Century skills, is listed as one of the Chamber’s key priorities to keep Florida on its upward trajectory.
To that end, day two closes out with a conversation between the Florida Chamber Foundation’s executive VP Tony Carvajal and Children’s Movement of Florida founder Dave Lawrence Jr., who lacks no candor when it comes to the need for more pre-K funding and parental preparation.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: [Michael] Avenatti is a third-rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships – a total low-life!
—@MichaelAvenatti: Trump is a moron. He knows nothing about me or my client. He is trying to divert attention away from Julie as a smokescreen. I challenge him to debate me regarding Kavanaugh and his accusers and our respective backgrounds. He will never agree because he is a coward and weak.
—@RepTedDeutch: 3 Yale Law School classmates who supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation & his law professor who testified on his behalf now support a full investigation. This is about finding the truth. It isn’t a “con.” It isn’t a “smear.” It’s the Senate’s job.
—@DavidJollyFL: Just withdraw already.
—@DaveWeigel: Please, hug a PR flack who had to pitch on anything but Kavanaugh today.
—@BradHerold: I’m excited to have @susie57 join the campaign. She’s a friend, a brilliant strategist and one of the first people to give me a chance in politics. She’ll be a great Campaign Chair for us and help get @RonDeSantisFL across the finish line.
—@TheRickWilson: Note to my Dem friends: the Qpoll in FL is notoriously noisy on both sides. Grain of salt. That said, Gillum is likely ahead +3-5 based on overall averages. Maybe “But Socialism!” isn’t the genius killshot people thought.
—@Fineout: Headline: Tom Steyer to spend millions backing Andrew Gillum in Florida Flashback: Steyer’s group spent nearly $18 million trying to help @CharlieCrist in 2014 – That’s three times what is being promised to Gillum.
—@SContorno: Yes, the rumors are true: I am now the @TB_Times National Political Correspondent. Very excited for this new assignment on the best political reporting team in Florida. Truly, a dream opportunity.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Government shutdown — 4; FSU vs. UM football game — 9; Voter registration deadline for General Election — 13; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 26; MLB World Series begins — 28; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 28; Early voting begins — 30; Halloween — 34; General Election Day — 40; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 51; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 54; Thanksgiving — 56; Black Friday — 57; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 61; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 138; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 159; Captain Marvel release — 162; 2020 General Election — 768.
— NOTES FROM THE FUTURE —
“Mark Wilson: Florida is changing, and so are its challenges and opportunities” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce kicked off the 2018 Future of Florida Forum with a presentation from its CEO, Wilson, outlining the current climate of Florida and how it could change over the next decade. “Florida is changing. Our economics, our demographics and our politics are all changing, and these changes bring both opportunities and challenges … ’Last year, I said ‘If Florida was a stock, I would buy all of it that I could.’ I’m not going to do that this year, I want you to tell me.” Today, the Chamber’s research shows, Florida’s economy is the 17th largest in the world, and it’s outpacing the national growth rate by a full percentage point. It’s also creating one out of every 11 jobs in the country and adding 1,100 residents a day. “If we’re adding 1,100 people a day, how are we doing that?” he asked. “Are people coming from California? Are people coming from New York? Are people coming from Brazil? Yes.”
“Rick Scott recognized with ‘Spirit of Free Enterprise’ award” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber recognized Gov. Scott for his “laser-focused” effort to bring jobs to Florida and boost the state’s economy. “I said earlier today that if Florida was a stock, I would buy it,” Florida Chamber CEO Mark Wilson said, adding that he was curious whether Scott’s exit after two terms in the Governor’s Mansion would impact his outlook. “That’s a real honor,” Scott said. “First off, I don’t get to travel much with my wife, so I’m happy she could be here.”
“Gray Swoope: Rapid change is coming to Florida’s job landscape” via Florida Politics — Florida needs to add 1.7 million jobs by 2030, according to new Florida Chamber research, but “disruption and transformation” present some unique challenges to meeting that goal. “Eighty percent of the jobs in 2030 don’t exist today,” said former Enterprise Florida chief Swoope, who now heads VisionFirst Advisors. “What are we doing? We don’t know what these jobs are.” During his remarks at the Chamber’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum, Swoope touched on technologies such as autonomous vehicles that will usher in new economic sectors worth billions, but they will also affect other industries in unforeseen ways. “Automation is a disrupter,” Swoope said, relaying an example. “Most car accidents are due to human error. How will this change things? The biggest source of organ donors is car accidents. We haven’t even thought about that.”
“Florida Senate aide sues for sex-harassment retaliation, wants whos-who of insiders to testify” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — A top Florida Senate Republican aide wants to force powerful state lawmakers and Capitol insiders to testify under oath as part of a gender-discrimination-and-retaliation lawsuit she filed this month against the Florida Legislature following her internal sexual harassment complaint against disgraced former Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala. The 14-person witness list in Rachel Perrin Rogers’ lawsuit is a whos-who lineup of Tallahassee power brokers, staffers and influencers: Latvala, outgoing Senate President Joe Negron, Senate Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, Florida Senate counsel and lobbyist George Meros, St. Petersburg publisher Peter Schorsch and even Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Perrin Rogers, a longtime staffer in the Senate, even wants her own boss — Senate Republican leader Wilton Simpson, a likely future president of the chamber — on the stand. Her suit alleges she suffered gender-based discrimination when Latvala harassed her and then retaliation by Senate leadership, which launched its own investigation of her after she filed her initial complaint against Latvala, a fellow Republican. The case will be heard in a federal administrative court, without a jury, at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14 in Tampa. Perrin Rogers and her attorney could also pursue the case in state court, which would have a jury.
“Joe Negron denies retaliation complaint” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Senate President Negron denies Senate staffer Rachel Perrin Rogers‘ allegations that the Senate, under his leadership, retaliated against her … “The Florida Senate has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind against any employee or visitor,” Negron said in a written statement. “The complaint of sexual harassment, in this case, was immediately and fully investigated. At all times the Senate has acted appropriately, and there has been no retaliation.”
Peter Schorsch’s quote, to both POLITICO Florida and the Times/Herald: “I believe Rachel Perrin Rogers is a courageous individual. I regret not believing her at first. I believe wholeheartedly that members of the Florida Senate attempted to negatively impact her life.”
— GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“Ron DeSantis hires Susie Wiles to take over floundering campaign” via Steve Bousquet and Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Trailing in the polls and with a sense of impending doom setting in among his supporters, DeSantis abruptly hired a new chairman of his struggling campaign … Wiles, a lobbyist and seasoned Republican strategist who ran Trump’s successful 2016 Florida effort and was a key adviser in Scott’s first of two successful races for Governor. The sudden change of command is an acknowledgment that DeSantis’ campaign is in serious disarray less than six weeks before the election, but with the hope that there is still time to right the ship and keep Republicans in control of the state’s most powerful office for four more years.
“Former GOP rainmaker gives $200K to Andrew Gillum” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Mike Fernandez, a longtime Republican megadonor who has left the party, gave $200,000 to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum last week. The health care billionaire has long been one of Florida Republicans’ biggest rainmakers but was staunchly “Never Trump” and is no longer a registered Republican. Fernandez has moved away from his old party because of Donald Trump and Republican stances on immigration, and because he advocates for gun control measures the party does not support. And Fernandez is now supporting Gillum — who is seen as being from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party — over Republican DeSantis, a former three-term congressman who used an endorsement from Trump to get an upset win in the GOP primary against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
“Gillum leads DeSantis by 9 in another poll showing the Democrat ahead” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Quinnipiac University’s poll was the ninth publicly released survey in a row that had Gillum leading. The poll showed the Democrat up by 54-45 percent, but it’s the first with an advantage that’s clearly outside the margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points. Driving Gillum’s lead: outsized support from women, nonwhite voters and independents. In Quinnipiac’s poll, 55 percent had a favorable view of Gillum and 31 percent had an unfavorable view, giving him a net favorability rating of 24 percentage points. DeSantis’ rating was -5 points, with 42 percent viewing him favorably and 47 percent unfavorably. Still, DeSantis is thus far winning in one clear area: TV ads. His side has spent about $16.8 million on TV since the Aug. 28 primary, compared to the $4.2 million spent by Gillum and his allies.
“State documents: Gillum records tied to ‘active criminal investigation’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Driving records related to Gillum are tied to an “active criminal investigation” and can’t be released unredacted by the state, according to an audit housed with the Florida Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles. POLITICO requested a listing of the number of times Gillum’s record has been accessed by governments or law enforcement agencies. The listing shows Gillum’s records have been accessed 106 times, but a vast majority were redacted by the department, and no specific information could be provided. The records, which span 2014 to 2018, are related to the state’s Driver and Vehicle Information Database, which includes information related to a range of information on a person’s driver history. Law enforcement agencies and local governments can access the database. “Reasons agencies need access may include performing investigations or gathering information as part of their official duties,” said Beth Frady, a DHSMV spokeswoman.
“New York congresswoman took money from same DeSantis donor who called Barack Obama a ‘Muslim N—’” via Gideon Resnick of Daily Beast — StevenAlembik, a Florida-based Republican activist who once referred to former President Obama as a “Muslim N — ” on Twitter, contributed $5,400 to New York Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney’s campaign since June 2017, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Alembik recently drew unwanted attention to Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis after a POLITICO story revealed his history of online racist remarks and his ties to the candidate. He acknowledged that he had indeed tweeted the attack on Obama but insisted that he is “absolutely not” racist.
Assignment editors — The Florida Chamber makes a special announcement with DeSantis, joined by state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood and Chamber President and CEO Wilson, 11 a.m., Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Regency 2, 1 Grand Cypress Boulevard, Orlando.
— SCOTT VS. NELSON —
“Bill Nelson ‘asleep at the wheel,’ says new Rick Scott ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican Gov. Scott, running for the U.S. Senate against Nelson, is out with a new ad replete with news coverage clips critical of Nelson’s efforts during the campaign. The ad’s title, “Asleep at the Wheel,” comes from a clip of Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson using that term to describe Nelson’s re-election campaign. That clip is played twice in the ad, along with analysis from POLITICO’s Marc Caputo, MSNBC’s Katy Tur, and other media figures regarding Nelson’s at-time lagging campaign.
“Scott’s campaign ad rebuts Democrats on Medicare fraud scandal” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott is firing back at opposition with a new television commercial rebutting a Democratic group’s ad about Scott’s role in the 1990s Medicare fraud scandal involving the company he led, Columbia/HCA. “Bill Nelson is confused again,” the new Scott commercial begins, continuing the Scott campaign’s theme of seeking to paint the 75-year-old Senator as mentally unreliable. Scott’s new 30-second spot, “Responsibility,” seeks to set the record straight. “When Rick Scott’s company was fined, 20 years ago, he took responsibility,” a narrator says. “And the company paid every penny it owed. That’s what strong leaders do. They take responsibility.” Then the commercial tries to pivot to criticize Nelson for his own issues with Medicare.
“Scott advances his right to make court appointments” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In a case that could alter the future of Florida’s highest court, Scott reasserted his right to appoint three new justices to the state Supreme Court before he leaves office in January. Responding to a lawsuit asking the Florida Supreme Court to intervene, Scott’s lawyers said the governor retains the power to select replacements for justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, who are all leaving the court in early January because they have reached the mandatory retirement age. The lawsuit, filed by the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause, has asked the Supreme Court to block Scott’s action, through a procedure known as a “writ of quo warranto,” arguing the new governor who takes office on Jan. 8 should have that appointment power. But in the 33-page response, Scott’s lawyers said he is following the precedent of beginning the appointment process before the vacancies actually occur, noting numerous justices have been appointed using this procedure in order to avoid prolonged vacancies on the court.
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Happening today — Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis fundraises at a reception in Boca Raton, 4 p.m., Shiner Law Group, 951 Yamato Road, Suite 210, Boca Raton.
Happening today — Republican Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody fundraises in Palm Beach County, 5:30 p.m., Café Sapori, 205 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach.
Gabby Giffords gun group backs three Florida congressional candidates — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly, is stepping into three Florida congressional races. The group is endorsing Democrats Nancy Soderberg in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, Chris Hunter in Florida’s 12th, and Donna Shalala in Florida’s 27th. “Voters are ready to elect Chris Hunter, Donna Shalala, and Nancy Soderberg because they will always put protecting their communities over helping the gun lobby make a profit. Giffords is proud to endorse them for Congress because they will never stop fighting for what’s right,” Giffords said.
“U.S. Chamber endorses Stephanie Murphy in CD 7” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Citing a bipartisan voting record and legislative efforts on behalf of small-business owners and entrepreneurs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Murphy for re-election … The endorsement of a Democratic lawmaker is rare for the national chamber … “Congresswoman Murphy understands what it takes to start, grow, and turn around a business in America, which is why she has shown such strong leadership on issues like infrastructure, immigration, and investing in small businesses,” Ken Johnson, executive director of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber, said in a news release. “Stephanie is willing to work across the aisle, and has a proven bipartisan record in Congress of supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners.”
“Bill Posey apologizes for ‘dumpiest house’ comment; Sanjay Patel says it’s typical condescension” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican U.S. Rep. Posey went to Facebook to apologize for comments he made last week disparaging supporters of Patel, his Democratic opponent in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. At a Trump Club meeting in Brevard County on Sept. 19, shown in a video posted on YouTube (since taken down), Posey declared, “I know most of my opponents’ signs. I can pick out the house without the sign, ‘cause it’s the dumpiest house in the neighborhood.” Patel responded by noting that Posey also said other disparaging things during the speech, including calling unhappy constituents “the damned deplorables.” Patel said it was “deeply troubling” that Posey would insult constituents, “but his comment clearly captures his condescending attitude toward those in his district who struggle to make ends meet.”
“David Shapiro fails to list Colorado condo on financial disclosure forms” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Shapiro, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, violated reporting rules again by failing to disclose his ownership of a Colorado rental condo. That’s according to the financial disclosure report Shapiro filed with the U.S. House. It’s the second such reporting violation found during Shapiro’s run for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan. Alex Vuskovic, Shapiro’s campaign manager, issued a statement regarding the omissions. “We are instructing the accounting firm who filed David’s personal financial disclosure to file an updated disclosure, based on their oversight.” Vuskovic said.”
“One CNN Key race moved toward Republicans, but it is not about the money” via Aaron Kessler of CNN — While the latest CNN Key Race Ratings show an overwhelming trend toward the Democrats — nine of the ratings updated Tuesday moved in favor of the Democratic candidate — there is one exception: Florida’s 27th. The Miami-Dade House seat is open for the first time in three decades, and Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, an Emmy-award-winning television reporter, is squaring off against former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. Despite the tight race, neither of the candidates has gone negative yet in their general election TV campaigns, according to Kantar Media’s data. They have exclusively been airing a pair of TV ads highlighting their own backgrounds but not attacking each other. On the fundraising side, it’s the same dynamic. The Shalala campaign has raised more than three times as much as Salazar. The race may come down to a number of factors, but unlike some contests, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that campaign cash will be the deciding factor between the two challengers.
Assignment editors — State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith joins community members outside of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Future of Florida Forum to stand against DeSantis’ health care record, 11 a.m., at the intersection of S. Apopka Vineland Road and Wintergarden Vineland Road, Orlando.
In new ad, Chip LaMarca calls for more ‘problem-solving’ in Tallahassee — In the 30-second spot “We Can Do That,” Republican LaMarca says he’s tired of the “political bickering and extremism.” “If we work together,” he says to the camera, “we can do anything … Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals … Protecting our children when they’re at school … Restoring our waterways and beaches … We can do that.” LaMarca faces Emma Collum in the race for Broward County’s House District 93, which leans Democratic.
“Uber will pay Florida $8.2 million as part of $148 million data breach settlement” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — The State of Florida, one of the originators of the complaint against Uber over the ride-sharing company keeping quiet about a 2016 data breach, will get $8.2 million of the $148 million Uber will pay 50 states and the District of Columbia. Florida Attorney General PamBondi’s office announced the overall settlement and Florida’s piece of it Wednesday afternoon. Hackers stole personal information from Uber about the company’s drivers, in some cases driver’s license information. Upon finding out about the data breach in November 2016, Uber found the hackers. But they didn’t tell anybody about the breach until November 2017.
“Greyhound track fights gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida — Melbourne Greyhound Park has put $145,000 into a political committee fighting a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in Florida. The Brevard County greyhound track contributed $50,000 last week to a committee known as Don’t Lose Your Control, Inc., bringing to $145,000 the track’s contributions since early August … The committee has not received other contributions. Don’t Lose Your Control is at least the third PAC formed to fight what will appear on the November ballot as Amendment 3.
“Florida Zika cases continue slow increase” via the News Service of Florida — The 72 cases had been reported as of Monday and were up from 66 cases reported during the first week of September. The new data classified 70 of the cases as “travel-related” — generally meaning people were infected with the virus elsewhere and brought it into the state. The other two cases were classified as having “undetermined” origin. Both of the “undetermined” cases involved people in Miami-Dade County. The largest number of Zika cases this year has been 28 in Collier County, followed by 19 in Miami-Dade and nine in Orange. Other counties with reported cases have been Broward, Palm Beach, Lee, Osceola, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Walton.
“Clearwater spares no effort in red tide defense” via Suhauna Hussain of the Tampa Bay Times —The beach equivalent of a Zamboni zooms along the sand. A man stoops over to snatch up a stray fish carcass with a litter grabber and slings it into a bucket. The worst outbreak of toxic red tide in a decade has hit Pinellas County. County officials said hundreds of thousands of dead fish have washed up on area beaches, casualties of the algae bloom spreading along the Gulf Coast. But it is not that obvious so far on Clearwater Beach. A combination of luck and aggressive cleanup efforts have largely kept them off the shores of one of the country’s highest rated beaches. “People have been telling us they can’t believe how fast we get them up — how fast we jump on (the dead fish) if we see them,” said Larry Bruce, Clearwater beach supervisor. Still, city officials worry the reports will spook tourists who are expected to flock to the beach during the approaching busy season.
“A doctor was sued for malpractice. He tried to fight it. It cost him nearly everything.” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott Plantz remembers the exact date he received notice he was being sued for medical malpractice … the accusation that he was responsible for a woman’s death. Plantz’s insurer encouraged him to settle the suit for $50,000, which it would have paid, and move on. But he would have to admit he failed to properly treat his patient. Convinced he had done nothing wrong, Plantz refused on principle. The decision would lead him on a decadelong odyssey that bloomed into an obsession. It would cost him his life savings, threaten his relationships with his wife and son, and consume every waking moment of his life.
— FLORIDA TWEET OF THE DAY —
I like how FWC gave a detailed description, so that we don't get Storm confused with.. you know… another kangaroo. https://t.co/u5QcwVDnA8
All roads lead to Florida: “Third woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct has a Miami connection” via Madeleine Marr and David Smiley of the Miami Herald —The third woman who came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh has a Miami connection. On March 1, 2001, Julie Swetnick was named as the defendant in a domestic violence case filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. The petitioner was Richard Vinneccy. Court records show the case was soon dismissed when neither party appeared in court. Big League Politics first reported the court case. Vinneccy told POLITICO that he dated Swetnick, now 55, for four years before splitting with her and eventually marrying another woman. “Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,” Vinneccy told POLITICO via phone. “I know a lot about her. She’s not credible at all.”
— OPINIONS —
“Scott owes taxpayers answers about high bills for debris removal” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Now that the Homeland Security inspector general is looking into an audit according to a letter sent this week to House members, Scott finally should be forced to explain what looks like inexplicably bad, wasteful management. The main issue is debris removal in the Florida Keys following the September 2017 storm. Officials in Monroe County had a pre-existing contract with an established firm so prices would be set and work could begin immediately in the event of a hurricane. This is a common practice throughout the state. However, in the first couple of days after Irma, Scott’s administration inked new deals with another company at substantially higher prices. In fact, they were the size of bills that usually bring price-gouging charges. Florida taxpayers did not just lose about $30 million in unnecessary cleanup bills. The cleanup process was delayed because employees from the original firm were jumping ship to MCM for higher pay.
“Joe Henderson: No lack of mud in the nasty race for CD 16” via Florida Politics — It’s getting tough to keep the charges and countercharges straight between Republican incumbent Buchanan and Democratic challenger Shapiro straight, and they are coming with increasing frequency. After Buchanan released an ad touting his environmental chops, Shapiro counterpunched with a point that Buchanan’s contributions from Big Sugar are reason enough to blame him for the red tide that turned beaches in the Sarasota and Manatee counties in smelly graveyards littered with rotting fish corpses. But who’s the polluter here? Anyway, that brings us to the yacht. Buchanan has had to explain why he spent between $1 million and $5 million to buy a yacht on the same day last November that he voted for the first draft of President Trump’s tax-cut package — you know, the one that has been criticized for being overly generous to rich people. Oh yeah. That became a TV spot for Shapiro’s camp, Buchanan’s camp has tried to tie Shapiro to Nancy Pelosi. Shapiro’s camp has tied Buchanan to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Whoever scares you most, right?
“Emma Collum: With Kavanagh, it’s time to end the ‘broken cycle’” via Florida Politics —Whenever a public figure faces charges of sexual assault, we follow the same broken cycle — an allegation is made, the accused person denies it, and the survivor is attacked. Then a chorus of voices amplified through cable news discounts the accusation and says, “even if it’s true, it’s not that bad.” This is a familiar story for many women. It’s my story too. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has lodged a credible allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh. Since coming forward, she has faced criticism and threats. She and her family have been forced into hiding. Her decision to come forward could not possibly have been easy. Even I, who represented abused women in court and founded the Florida Women’s March, have struggled with whether to tell my story. But we need to speak up if we want to make change.
— MOVEMENTS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Michael Brawer: Association of Florida Colleges
Jeff Kottkamp, Sunshine State Consultants: Fallcatcher
— ALOE —
“’It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ has become TV’s most interesting political comedy” via Sonny Bunch of The Washington Post — Now, in the sitcom’s 13th season, writers have kicked it up a notch and given episodes a running theme: gender politics. But they have done so in a manner that is rarely didactic and often immensely funny, weaving insights about the ridiculous world in which we live into “It’s Always Sunny’s” ridiculous characters … The season’s second episode, during which the friends participate in an “escape room,” was funny for all the reasons “It’s Always Sunny” tends to be funny: It was about five people who not-so-secretly hate each other forming factions in order to screw the others over. But if you were paying attention to certain clues (talk about the roles of men and women; discussions of posture and animals and eye contact), you might think the show was subtly mocking Jordan Peterson and his adherents for suggesting that life consists of a series of simple tricks one must master to live well. I tend to think of Peterson’s advice as banal rather than existentially threatening. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is walking a tricky tightrope between maintaining its comedic bona fides and actually saying something interesting.
“’Solo’ Blu-ray offers sneak peek at Disney’s Millennium Falcon ride” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — A special feature exclusive to customers who buy the “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Blu-ray at Target includes some new information on the Millennium Falcon attraction coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019. The ride will have “immersive” and interactive elements, such as allowing guests to explore the chess room of the Falcon to requiring them to interact with the ship as part of the experience. “There are 200 some odd buttons, knobs and switches on the inside of the cockpit and they all do stuff,” said Asa Kalama, executive creative director for the attraction. “If you’re the gunners in the center there and you don’t fire back on those TIE Fighters fast enough they’re going to riddle the hull with laser bolts, the engineers in back, it’s really up to them to keep the whole Falcon in working order so they’re back there furiously working away at their various systems.”
“How Apple thrived in a season of tech scandals” via Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times — The business world has long been plagued by Apple catastrophists — investors, analysts, rival executives and journalists who look at the world’s most valuable company and proclaim it to be imminently doomed. The critics’ worry for Apple is understandable, even if their repeated wrongness is a little hilarious. Apple’s two-decade ascent from a near-bankrupt has-been of the personal computer era into the first trillion-dollar corporation has defied every apparent rule in tech. Companies that make high-priced hardware products aren’t supposed to be as popular, as profitable or as permanent.
“NASA’s bold-ish plan for the next era takes us to the moon and Mars … eventually” via Devin Coldewey of TechCrunch — NASA has issued a report summarizing its official plans for exploring our solar system, and it makes for exciting reading — if you don’t mind that it comes with a dose of realism. Crewed missions to the moon’s surface; a semi-permanent base orbiting it; a Mars sample return mission; all these and more are there, if not necessarily in the next decade. The National Space Exploration Campaign is the name of NASA’s overarching plan to stop worrying about low Earth orbit (LEO), ditch the ISS, win the next moon race and then head off to Mars.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Wednesday marked the beginning of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Future of Florida Forum.
The key takeaway: Florida is changing.
According to the Chamber’s multimillion-dollar “Florida 2030” research project, there are seismic shifts in store for the Sunshine State’s political, demographic and economic landscapes over the next decade.
The group estimates the state will add more than 5 million new residents over the next 12 years, and with that growth comes the need for more and better jobs and transforming the state’s $1 trillion economy from its reliance on real estate and tourism into something more future-proof.
To do that, the Chamber is outlining how the private sector can play a role in boosting educational attainment and increasing access to quality health care for Floridians. Achieving those goals, the Chamber said, requires building a workforce with the skills of tomorrow.
“The need for 1.7 million new jobs comes as some of our current jobs are likely to disappear,” said Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “That’s why we need a diverse workforce with the right skills.”
But the staunchly pro-business group insists a bright future for the state doesn’t hinge on dollars and cents alone.
“Our goal is not to be satisfied being the 17th largest economy in the world — how do we get to be the 10th largest?” Carvajal asked. “It’s not just about the economy. It’s not just about the GDP. It’s about prosperity.”
“We all know that red tide is nothing new to Florida.” — Gov. RickScott, via telephone, to members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Scott, who hopes to ascend to the U.S. Senate, has drawn fire for red tide this year, particularly along the campaign trail.
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The Florida Chamber Foundation continues its “2018 Future of Florida Forum.” Scheduled speakers include Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis; Matt Caldwell, the Republican candidate for state Agriculture Commissioner; state Reps. Randy Fine and Bob Rommel; and Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That’s at 8 a.m. (general session begins), Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission meets to take up issues such as rules for invasive fish and wildlife and a rule dealing with trap fisheries — stone crab, blue crab and spiny lobster. Also, it will consider a rule that would exclude live food shrimp from seafood icing requirements. That’s at 8:30 a.m. Florida Public Safety Institute Conference Center, 85 Academy Dr., Havana.
University of West Florida Board of Trustees will meet. That’s at 9 a.m. Central time, UWF Conference Center, 11000 University Parkway, Building 22, Pensacola.
The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce holds a news conference after its Board of Directors vote on Hillsborough County School Board Resolution 2018-05, a one-half cent sales tax for education. That’s at 9:45 a.m., 201 N. Franklin St., Suite 201, Tampa.
The Florida Chamber makes a special announcement with DeSantis, joined by state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood and Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. That’s at 11 a.m., Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Regency 2, 1 Grand Cypress Boulevard, Orlando.
The Florida Supreme Court will release regular weekly opinions. That’s at 11 a.m.
The Gulf Consortium Board of Directors, which works on issues related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, meets. That’s at 2 p.m., Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda.
The Agency for Health Care Administration meets to discuss a proposed rule change clarifying “good cause” reasons for Medicaid beneficiaries to request changes in managed-care plans. That’s at 3:30 p.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, 2727 Mahan Dr., Building 3, Tallahassee.
Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis fundraises at a reception in Boca Raton. That’s at 4 p.m., Shiner Law Group, 951 Yamato Road, Suite 210, Boca Raton.
The Northwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board holds a public hearing to approve its 2018-2019 budget and millage rate. That’s at, 5:05 p.m. Central time, Gulf Coast State College, 5230 West Highway 98, Panama City.
Republican Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody fundraises in Palm Beach County. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Café Sapori, 205 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach.
However, the beach access “controversy” is one political football that could use just a bit of deflating.
After several attempts to turn the newly signed law into a talking point, the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald PolitiFacttries to bring a little context to the beach access debate. In rating a similar claim “mostly false,” PolitiFact notes: “It’s unclear at this point how the law will change private beach access because that depends on the actions of local governments and private beach owners.”
It’s important for everyone to take a breath, step back and re-examine the intent and real-life impact HB 631 — before turning it into a campaign talking point.
At its core, the law is straightforward — it seeks to implement a process (governed by judicial oversight) to protect the private property rights of all Floridians by preventing local governments from infringing upon such rights.
Yes, many people attended a recent public hearing in the Panhandle’s Walton County on the matter of customary use. However, if the county didn’t want to restrict beach access, it should not have allowed deeds up to the mean high-water line, taxing beachfront property owners for the land.
The group Florida Coastal Property Rights is taking up the crusade for the truth on the subject of beach access, in the interest of scores of beachfront property owners statewide — as well as advocates for property rights as well as due process — to ensure there is judicial oversight for claims of customary use over privately owned land.
“Bill Nelson should be ashamed of himself,” said Sarah Bascom, representing Florida Coastal Property Rights, “for knowingly perpetuating this false narrative.”
Bascom explains: “The new law does not block public beaches, it simply ensures that a third-party, neutral arbiter — a court — must be the one to declare customary use over a piece of privately-owned land. This process ensures that a local government cannot infringe on private property rights by unilaterally declaring customary use without judicial oversight.”