Florida Politics Archives - Florida Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.19.18

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

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

She said “Yes!” — Congratulations to power couple Stephanie Lewis McClung, fresh off a victorious stint as Nikki Fried‘s finance director, and Reggie Cardoza, who quarterbacked House Democrats to a net+5 cycle, on their engagement.

Note to readers — We’re asking you, our Sunburn readers, to tell us what you’re grateful for this Thanksgiving, and we will publish your comments in our Wednesday edition. That will be the last one for this week. Send your emails to Peter@floridapolitics.com.

Even with his opponent retracting his concession while a recount of the election results was underway, Ron DeSantis wasted little time preparing to take the reins of state government. And now, with a second concession from Andrew Gillum and DeSantis named the clear victor, the Governor-elect can accelerate his transition plans.

Look for DeSantis to name a Chief of Staff immediately after — but not before — the Thanksgiving holiday.

Even with recounts, concession retractions, and other drama, Ron DeSantis was deep into the nuts-and-bolts of his transition to Florida Governor.

Initially, four political insiders — Shane StrumKathy MearsScott Parkinson, and Scott Ross — were thought to be in the running for the Chief of Staff position, however, the shortlist is in flux as DeSantis plans to interview several more candidates for the job.

>>>Mears, a former chief of staff to two House Speakers and currently the chief lobbyist for Florida State University, has unofficially taken herself out of consideration, insisting that it’s not the right time for her to make a personnel move.

>>>One name he increasingly mentioned as a possibility for CoS is former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Indeed, Corcoran has been a particularly active member of DeSantis’ transition team, speaking up often during policy meetings and personnel interviews. However, the Corcoran-as-Chief-of-Staff rumor is just that, transition sources say.

>>>Although a Chief of Staff won’t be named this holiday week, DeSantis is close to announcing who will comprise his Inaugural Committee.

>>>Additionally, the transition intends to announce more staff hires as soon as Monday.

One big question for DeSantis heading into this week is not about who will get such and such job but rather how does he plan to spend Thanksgiving? Sources say he intends to take part in a charity event Thursday morning and then head out on a well-deserved Turkey Day vacation.

Happening today — The House Republican Caucus will meet in advance of the organization session scheduled Tuesday when Miami Lakes Republican Rep. Jose Oliva will formally become House Speaker, 4 p.m., House chamber, The Capitol.

Happening today — Florida Senate Democrats will meet to elect Sen. Audrey Gibson the 2018-20 Democratic Leader of the Florida Senate, 5:30 p.m., Senate Chamber, The Capitol. A reception will follow immediately afterward at Tallahassee Garden Club, 507 N Calhoun St.

It’s certainly not a lock, but it’s possible that the Senate Democrats will also designate Gary Farmer as Gibson’s successor.

With Janet Cruz‘s win in Senate District 18, along with earlier wins by Lori Berman, Jason Pizzo, and Annette Taddeo, it’s believed that Farmer now has as many as ten votes within the caucus to become Leader in 2020. Opposing him are a handful of members, including Lauren Book and Kevin Rader, but it appears neither of them have lined up enough votes to block Farmer, who spent the election cycle working overtime for other candidates, such as Cruz.

The question for tonight is whether the anti-Farmer forces have enough votes to (again) delay a vote on who will succeed Gibson with the hope that they can identify a compromise candidate. We’ve even even heard Cruz’s name in the mix as such a candidate.

But, at the end of the day, we think today is Gary Farmer’s day.


—@realDonaldTrump: Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future — a force to reckon with!

@Fineout: Former State Sen. Dwight Bullard on Gillum concession: “The problem for Ron DeSantis becoming governor of Florida after running against Andrew Gillum is that at least half the state knows we deserve better. A presidential endorsement from Trump does not a plan to govern make.”

@NelsonforSenate releases concession with some salty notes. Doesn’t say Scott’s name, notes that he was heavily outspent, and discusses same issues and talking point he did during race. Not the “wish my opponent well, let’s come together”

@CharlesCWCooke: Gators up 42-0. Bill Nelson to announce a lawsuit on behalf of Idaho.

@Doug_Hanks: Overheard from the (very far away) Miami-Dade canvassing table. The recount of Senate undervotes and overvotes is finished, and one lawyer told another: “My favorite write-in line was ‘They both suck.’”

@DeFede: After the recount, election supervisor Brenda Snipes seemed pleased with the process saying only a few things needed to be “tweaked.” That’s right, tweaked. You know the same way the folks who flew the Hindenburg or were responsible for the Titanic needed to make a few tweaks.

@FredPiccoloJr: Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges. Media looking to attend org session & you do not have an FDLE pass, please stop by the Speaker’s office. If u have an FDLE pass & just want a souvenir please come by as well. W/o this or FDLE badge = no floor access. Plz pass 2 colleagues

@AGlorios: “I hate everything and everyone and I don’t care about your lawsuit” — fellow reporter I ran into just now while we were both picking up Mexican food.

—@GlennThrush: People dump (o)n Tallahassee the same way they dump on Albany. But, like Albany, it’s a cool town with a really distinct edge. Added bonus: Spanish Moss!

—@AnaMarieCox: If you bring salad to my Thanksgiving you will eat it outside by yourself.


Elections Canvassing Commission meets to certify official General Election results — 1; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 1; Thanksgiving — 3; Black Friday — 4; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 8; Hanukkah begins — 13; Partial government shutdown — 18; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 26; 116th Congress convenes — 45; Florida’s Inauguration Ceremony — 70; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 85; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 106; Tampa Bay mayoral election — 106; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 110; Iowa Caucuses — 441; 2020 General Election — 715.


Florida recount 2018: Still confused? Read this.” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

‘This was not just about an election cycle’: Andrew Gillum concedes for second time” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat — In a four-minute video posted live on Facebook, Gillum stood with his wife R. Jai, a Tallahassee park in the background and both dressed in Florida A&M University orange and green. Gillum first thanked his supporters. Then, he officially acknowledged Republican Ron DeSantis as the winner. “R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said in the video posted at about 5 p.m. Shortly after Gillum tweeted about his concession, DeSantis replied. “This was a hard-fought campaign,” DeSantis responded in a tweet to Gillum. “Now it’s time to bring Florida together.”

To view Gillum’s concession video, click on the image below:

Rick Scott headed to Senate as Bill Nelson concedes” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Nelson‘s political career now comes to a likely end after four decades in various elected posts. Scott‘s lead after the general election was just over 12,000 votes, a number that shrank to roughly 10,000 after a machine and hand recount. Always trailing by a thin margin, the Nelson campaign had filed a stream of lawsuits that it predicted would produce thousands of additional votes for the three-term Senator. But those efforts failed. He called Scott to officially concede shortly after 2 p.m. Scott put more than $50 million of his own money into the race, giving his campaign a significant financial advantage over Nelson. Republicans have been quick to point out that roughly $50 million from outside Democratic groups was poured into defeating Scott in the closely watched race. On the other side, outside Democratic groups spent about $20 million to try and save the party’s lone hold on power in a third-biggest state in the nation.

For the first time in nearly five decades, Bill Nelson will not represent Florida in government.

With victory, Scott joins an exclusive club of Florida politicians” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Nikki Fried maintains hold in AG race after manual recount” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Former medical-marijuana lobbyist Fried is on the verge of being the only Florida Democrat to capture a statewide win, gaining votes over Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the race for Agriculture Commissioner after a manual recount was completed Sunday. Fried’s lead over Caldwell in the Cabinet race peaked at 6,753 votes on Sunday, adding 1,446 votes to her machine-recount total, according to results posted on the state Division of Elections website. Fried, a lawyer from Fort Lauderdale, has repeatedly claimed victory in the race, but Caldwell’s campaign wasn’t ready to concede after the bulk of the manual recount results were provided to the state Sunday.

Matt Caldwell should concede ASAP” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Mike Caruso declared winner in HD 89” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Caruso has been declared the next state representative from House District 89, defeating his Democratic opponent by just 37 votes in the official results. The race between Caruso and Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio went through both a machine and manual recount as a result of the razor-thin margin. But once those recounts were completed, Caruso held on to his 37-vote margin out of about 80,000 votes cast. Caruso wins the race with 50.02 percent of the vote to Bonfiglio’s 49.98 percent. All recounts faced a Sunday deadline, after which the final results would be certified.

Elizabeth Fetterhoff clings to 61-vote lead after hand recount” via Florida Politics


Brenda Snipes submits her resignation” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel – Facing the likelihood of an embarrassing removal from office, Broward County’s much-maligned election supervisor, Brenda Snipes, announced Sunday she will resign following a string of controversies plaguing her office before and since Election Day. Snipes sent her letter of resignation to state officials in Tallahassee just as the recount ended, her attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which first reported the news. Her letter was not immediately available nor was the exact date of her resignation clear, the paper reported. Norris-Weeks told the Sun Sentinel that the 75-year-old Snipes wanted to spend more time with her family.

Broward County misplaced over 2,000 votes” via NBC Miami — Snipes said the 2,040 ballots “are in the building” — referring to the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill. The ballots were discovered missing after there was a discrepancy between the recount returns and the original unofficial returns. Snipes said some members of her team did not have as much training as others and possibly misplaced the ballots in the wrong tray during the machine recount. Snipes added that the vote totals and the number of people who participated in the election matched with the original unofficial returns.

Taking the mantle of Florida election laughingstock is Broward County under Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.

Miami is no longer the laughingstock of election season. Here’s why” via Linda Robertson of the Miami Herald — About 31,000 problematic ballots in the agriculture commissioner contest had been tallied by hand in eight hours, and once again Florida’s most populous county had reached the finish line ahead of Broward and Palm Beach. Eighteen years after the hanging-chad and “Brooks Brothers Riot” fiasco that helped nudge George W. Bush into the White House and six years after President Barack Obama shamed Miami for long polling-place lines that kept voters waiting past 10 p.m., the county carried out a widely-praised, nearly glitch-free election. Thank Elections Supervisor Christina White. She managed a brisk, clean, efficient operation that was the envy of the state. Part of White’s success stems from her assumption that in an election, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. “She knows that in every election you have to account for Murphy and anticipate curveballs,” Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. “She is master of the art of planning.”

Miami-Dade’s well-run recount was a far cry from the debacle of 2000.

Here’s why Palm Beach County is saddled with slow vote-counting machines” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — Elections supervisors in other counties replaced their voting equipment in recent years as Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher retained her aging platform and pushed state legislators to change upcoming rules for voters with disabilities. “We didn’t anticipate that we’d have to run 100 percent of our ballots through these old machines,” Bucher told reporters one day before a state-mandated recount deadline she didn’t meet. “We anticipated we would have a pretty quiet midterm election as we used to. I guess that’s not the new norm. We never anticipated that these machines would have to run 24/7 and perform four recounts.” Bucher’s office is alone in using voting equipment from Sequoia Voting Systems, a maligned firm that was bought out by Dominion Voting Systems in 2010. Unlike equipment used in other counties, the Sequoia equipment can’t recount votes in multiple races at once.

Even though Florida’s recount is over, Palm Beach may be counting until Christmas” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald

Democrats hire investigator to identify who altered Florida form used to fix ballot” via Ana Ceballos of the Naples Daily News — The action came after the USA TODAY NETWORK — Florida reported on an email that showed Democrats were told to distribute the altered forms in an apparent statewide effort, encouraging party workers to give them to as many voters as possible so they could fix signature problems on their ballots despite the fact the state deadline had passed. One party activist has said the idea was to encourage as many voters as possible to fix their absentee ballots after the deadline in hopes that a judge would allow them to be included in a recount later. “Upon receiving notice of the allegations that the form was incorrect, FDP took immediate steps, including hiring an independent investigator to review the issues at hand,” said Mark Herron, an attorney for the party.

Republicans had a secret weapon in the Florida recount fight” via Jonathan Allen of NBC News — “This is personal for me,” Jessica Furst Johnson said in a telephone interview with NBC News. Now that Nelson has conceded, Scott can thank Johnson and her army of GOP lawyers for helping preserve his victory by largely turning back the sprawling Democratic legal effort to challenge the actions of election officials and various aspects of Florida statutes. Though Johnson is one of Washington’s foremost experts on election law, she’s quick to point out that she’s not a litigator. Johnson managed the battle plan, which Republicans say included more than 100 paid and volunteer lawyers working in courtrooms and at recount centers across the state. Friends say Johnson was in the right person in the right place at the right time for Scott and the GOP because she’s able to keep her cool in the midst of chaos, manage people and tasks, and analyze both legal and political questions with knowledge and judgment.


Trump cried ‘fraud’ in Florida. Ron DeSantis said, tone it down.” via Glenn Thrush and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — While the president was in Paris last week, DeSantis let the White House know, through intermediaries, that Trump’s incendiary tweets accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election were hurting and not helping, according to Republicans and administration officials with knowledge of the situation. Breaking with the most powerful Republicans in his state, DeSantis has grown frustrated with the bombastic attacks on Democrats launched by Trump, Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio, believing it will erode confidence in elections and spark a Democratic backlash.

Andrew Gillum advises DeSantis to prioritize diversity” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics


A ‘stress test’ for the next campaign: Florida recount sets the rules of engagement for the 2020 race” via Beth Reinhard and Amy Gardner of The Washington Post — Florida’s sprawling and diverse landscape of largely Democratic big cities, politically independent suburbs and conservative rural swathes make it a key battleground for debates over voting rights and ballot access expected to shape the next campaign. “The recount was a stress test of the Florida electoral system,” said Matt Gaetz, who had just left Broward County when the call came from Brad Parscale to drive the 300 miles back. “If you were the Trump 2020 campaign, wouldn’t you have concerns right now about what the terrain here will look like?’’ Charles Lichtman, a Democratic attorney who worked on Florida’s infamous 2000 recount and represented Nelson and the Florida Democratic Party this year, called last week’s recount “the warm-up … Starting tomorrow, 2020 will be the most important election in our lifetime,” he said.

Matt Gaetz calls this election a ‘stress test’ for 2020.

Nelson’s ending: sluggish campaign couldn’t overcome Scott’s millions” via Steve Bousquet and Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — After 46 years in public office, he finally met his match in Scott, whose vast personal fortune, trademark aggressiveness, and single-minded discipline has proved to be just enough to produce an excruciatingly narrow victory — Scott’s third, close statewide win in eight years. “When you’re running against Rick Scott, you’re always playing defense,” said Democratic strategist Steve Schale, “and our path to victory as Democrats is largely predicated on record turnout in a handful of counties. It’s hard to get to a win.” n a period of hyper-partisanship, Nelson bet that voters would gravitate toward the congressman who rose so far above the political fray, he made it to space; the Democrat who affectionately calls his Republican counterpart “Marco;” the candidate who branded himself “Florida’s independent senator.” For the better part of the past five decades, that worked. This time, it didn’t.

How Fried became Ag. Commissioner” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — How, of all people, did the first-time candidate from South Florida rise above the rest of the Democrats? What was her key to a down-to-the-wire success? She says her campaign’s success was threefold. First, her commitment to a mostly nonpartisan campaign. Second, sticking firmly to three narrow talking points, or her “three w’s”: Weapons, weed and water. Fried’s campaign, which was heavily predicated on gun control and expanded access to medical marijuana, brought an understanding of the agriculture commissioner’s role to those outside of the farming community. Or in other words — Democrats, suburbanites and urban dwellers. “These were things that transcend Democrats, independents and Republicans,” Fried said of her campaign platform. “I made them believe that I want to fix things and make things better.” The third key to her success? The “fourth w,” she said: being a woman.

Joe Henderson: Public schools a winning issue for Janet Cruz in SD 18” via Florida Politics — Cruz got into the race to make an issue out of gun violence, but she discovered quickly that voters in her Hillsborough County district were even more passionate about restoring public school funding. That became Cruz’s battle cry throughout a tough, nasty campaign against incumbent Republican Dana Young. It proved to be the winning strategy in Cruz’s 411-vote victory out of more than 207,000 votes that were cast. Cruz, who was forced to leave her Florida House seat because of term limits, had an awakening after a chance meeting with a voter at a South Tampa Home Depot. That woman told her she had gone to the store to purchase portable air conditioners for some classrooms at Roosevelt Elementary School in the Palma Ceia section of Tampa. The more Cruz met with those voters, the more she realized how determined they were.

With public schools, Janet Cruz found a winning issue in the Senate District 18 race.

Ryan Torrens says ‘justice done’ after court reversed qualifying decision — The former Democratic candidate for Attorney General on Friday said he was “gratified” after the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned Judge Karen Gievers, who “erred in declaring that Torrens failed to properly qualify” to run. “Our supporters have been assured that their faith in our candidacy has been vindicated by the appeals court,” he said. “Justice was done, not simply for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who supported our determination to stand up to big special interests and fight for everyday Floridians.” The victory was bittersweet: Gievers’ August decision was on hold pending the appeal; Torrens lost to Sean Shaw in the Democratic primary. Shaw, who sued to keep Torrens off the ballot, then lost to Republican Ashley Moody. Shaw claimed Torrens, a Tampa consumer affairs lawyer, qualified to run only because he improperly transferred money into his campaign account. Among other things, the appellate court said Gievers’ “order does not contain any authority supporting its ruling” and that Shaw didn’t have standing to sue, adding that enforcement of state law is a question “within the purview of the Florida Elections Commission.”

Cygnal polling founder talks firm’s success in Florida midterms” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — While many polls missed the mark in Florida’s multiple statewide midterm races, some surveys nearly hit the nail on the head in what turned out to be a chaotic cycle. Cygnal, a polling firm founded by Brent Buchanan, was one of the better pollsters regarding the U.S. Senate and Governor’s races here in the state. Buchanan spoke with Florida Politics regarding Cygnal’s success, as well as his view of the state of polling in general. “The accuracy comes from correctly predicting what the turnout composition was going to look like,” Buchanan said. “We knew that it would be a bigger midterm percentage turnout than historical midterms, just because of the energy that you saw and the interest and enthusiasm.”

Offshore drilling still a threat despite constitution ban, environmentalists argue” via Melissa Nelson Gabriel of the Pensacola News Journal — “We enjoyed a really big win on Election Day when 70 percent of Floridians voted to ban offshore drilling in public waters,” said Hunter Miller, Florida spokesman for the environmental nonprofit Oceana. But the federal government is not bound by the Florida Constitution. The Trump administration is expected to announce its updated offshore drilling plan in the coming months and that has Miller worried. Miller believes there is also a chance the oil industry could reach a deal with outgoing Republican leadership members of the U.S. House of Representatives before Democrats take control next year to expand offshore drilling. “Communities that care about our coasts need to remain vigilant. While we cheer this victory, we know that the fight is not over,” he said.

Despite GOP sweep, Polk Dems encouraged about future” via Gary White of the Lakeland ledger — Can there be a cause for optimism among Polk County Democrats after another winless election? Karen Welzel thinks so. Welzel, the state committeewoman for the Polk County Democratic Party, said the election generated some positivity for Democrats, even as they failed to put any candidates into office at the county, state or federal level. Welzel pointed especially to the relatively close races involving Democrats Kristen Carlson, who ran for the U.S. House, and Bob Doyel, who ran for the Florida Senate. And she exulted in the national results, as Democrats wrested control of the U.S. House of Representatives away from Republicans. To be sure, the election provided plenty of disappointment for local Democrats.


ICYMI — “Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs via Florida jobless rate drops to 3.4 percent, adds 17,800 jobs” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — That’s down from 3.5 percent in September and the lowest it has been since January 2007. The state added 17,800 jobs over the month, just below the average 19,000 jobs added per month so far in 2018. Education and health services have gained the most jobs over the year (51,300) after a monthslong run, overtaking the usual competitors for the No. 1 spot, construction and leisure and hospitality. Leisure and hospitality have gained the second-highest number of jobs over the year (51,100) followed by construction (43,400). Government was the only sector to lose jobs over the year through October (-8,900).

Cabinet meeting reset for end of November” via the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet will meet by phone on Nov. 30 to consider issues such as Florida Power & Light power-plant projects in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Scott and the Cabinet initially scheduled the meeting for Tuesday but canceled that meeting. No explanation was given for the change of dates. Among other things, Scott and the Cabinet could sign off on a plan by FPL to build a power plant in Broward County and revisit a dispute about a nuclear project in Miami-Dade.

Bill Galvano says hurricane likely a regular Session issue” via the News Service of Florida — “The good news is we had reserves available. The governor had wide discretion to work with those reserves. But it will be a theme for Session,” Galvano, who will formally become President Tuesday, told reporters. “When I talk with our budget folks, you’re talking about a billion-dollar impact that we’re going to have to deal with, and that’s not a prospective (impact). It’s based on dollars that have been spent or will be spent for cleanup and otherwise, that come ahead of any federal reimbursements.” He said issues such as building codes and the power grid in Northwest Florida have to be “vetted” and noted that he had visited parts of the region that sustained massive damage in the storm.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano says hurricanes are best left to Regular Session.

Galvano says Legislature could consider election law changes” via Elizabeth Koh of the Miami Herald — “I think we’ve had too many problems through too many cycles,” Galvano told reporters in a wide-ranging interview. “It is something that I am interested in doing, taking a look at how we are working the process and if there are modifications we can make to better serve the people during an election cycle.” Galvano said he had no specific plans, but that senators he spoke with were interested in taking up the issue: “why ballots appear, why they’re hard to track, why we have machine recounts that produce substantially less number of votes than originally reported.”

Supreme Court signs off on process for picking justices” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — In a 4-3 decision, the court held that the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission was acting within its authority to conduct a process that resulted in 59 judges and lawyers applying to replace justices Barbara ParienteR. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince. The justices are leaving the court in early January because they have reached mandatory retirement age. The Judicial Nominating Commission is scheduled to meet Nov. 27 in Orlando to select nominees for the vacancies. The retiring justices’ six-year terms end on Jan. 8, the day the new governor will take office. The court majority rejected petitions from the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause that had sought to extend the application deadline and halt the current application process.

Politics, practicality, price: across Florida, rural students put off by perceived weaknesses of higher education” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times — Rural students are far less likely than urban and suburban peers to go to college, and the divide is growing deeper in places across Florida. If they do go, rural students are less likely to choose four-year universities, and they’re more likely to drop out. Many hail from deep-red counties in the economic lurch — the same places where, in major polls, people say they’re disillusioned with higher education. The 1990s-era “college for everybody” sensibility has faded, and thanks to Florida’s investment in career training programs, high schoolers have options. Rural families remain deeply skeptical of a pricey degree that could be useless back home. And they often don’t have as many resources that build a bridge to college and emphasize the undeniable benefits — some 65 percent of today’s jobs require education or training beyond high school.

Who made key mistakes in Parkland school shooting? Nine months later, no one held accountable” via David Fleshler and Megan O’Matz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Despite an extraordinary series of governmental failures leading to the bloodshed in Parkland, just a few low-level employees have faced consequences over errors that may have cost lives. But not the school administrators who failed to act on warnings of weak security, or the ones who mismanaged gunman Nikolas Cruz’s special education needs when he was a student there. Not the sheriff’s deputies who took cover while children were shot, or their supervisors. And, by all indications, no one at the FBI, which fumbled compelling, back-to-back tips about Cruz in the months before his rampage. “There were so many mistakes,” said Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, whose district includes Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t feel there’s been sufficient accountability. But more importantly, the people that live in northwest Broward, my neighbors and friends, don’t feel there’s been accountability.”

Mistakes were made in Parkland, but there is still no accountability.

After Hurricane Michael, St. Marks tickled pink with flamingo sighting” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Flamingos seem to come in 23-year spans at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. And their arrivals always seem to coincide with a hurricane blowing them in from far away tropical locales. Over the past few weeks, a wild flamingo that has been hanging around the refuge has piqued the interest of bird enthusiasts eager to get a glimpse of the wayward visitor. Birders from as far away as Michigan have made the pilgrimage to Florida to see it. Log books where visitors can sign in have entries from Arkansas, Jacksonville and Gainesville, all showing love for the flamingo.


This past weekend, state Rep. Kristin Jacobs was one of only three lawmakers across the nation to win the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s Award for Civility in State Governance. The award was given for her work in crossing the partisan divide to pass meaningful legislation.

Congratulations to Kristin Jacobs, recognized with the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s Award for Civility in State Governance. (Photo via the Florida House.)

In her second term, Jacobs authored and passed several significant measures focused primarily on water and environmental issues. One such measure, HB 53 designated a Coral Reef protection zone and HB 181, the “Natural Hazards” bill which forced state agencies to work with and communicate with each other on resiliency issues related to climate change and water policy. Jacobs also made a name in working with GOP leadership on getting several key water measures included in other members’ bills.

She also was a leader in helping negotiate and pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Act and has been asked by Speaker Jose Oliva to co-lead a lunch orientation for freshman lawmakers on, (what else?) the social aspects of lawmaking.


Trump would ‘love’ Pam Bondi to join administration” via The Associated Press — Donald Trump made the comments Saturday on his departure from the White House for a trip to California. There has been speculation Trump might consider her to replace the recently ousted Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, but the president has not said that. Trump said he would “consider Pam Bondi for anything.” He said she is doing a good job in Florida and “I’d love to have her in the administration.” Bondi has not said what she plans to do when she leaves office.

Bondi denies meeting on becoming Attorney General” via the News Service of Florida — Bondi disputed a report she will meet with Trump next week to discuss becoming U.S. Attorney General. “The attorney general says that is fake news,” Bondi spokesman Whitney Ray said in an email Friday. The McClatchy news organization reported that it had contacted three sources who said Trump was seriously considering Bondi for the job and that she would travel to his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago while the president was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Donald Trump says he would ‘love’ to have Pam Bondi in his administration; Bondi continues to deny there any plans for such. (Image via Getty)

Trump in Palm Beach: PBSO asks FEMA for $5.6M in Trump security costs” via Alexandra Seltzer of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has asked the federal government to refund his agency more than $5.6 million for the 65,063 hours his staff and deputies worked to ensure the safety of Trump, his wife and young son during their visits to the county from October 2017 through the end of April of this year. PBSO’s request said it is “honored” to work with the U.S. Secret Service to provide security for the president, but PBSO’s budget can’t “sustain the additional costs without compromising public safety,” the application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency said. Bradshaw had 693 sworn and civilian staff work 65,000 hours to protect Trump, First Lady Melania Trump and their son for a cost of $5,618,463.56. Bradshaw said the reimbursement is necessary to “alleviate this burden from our taxpayers,” the application added.

Betsy DeVos gives more power to those accused of sexual assault in overhaul of Obama-era rules” via Michael Sykes of Axios — Secretary DeVos has released a proposed overhaul of how the Department of Education regulates colleges and universities on sexual assault and harassment allegations, empowering the accused and giving their lawyers the right to cross-examine their accusers. The proposal pushes aside guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011 that lowered the burden of proof for accusers and put a time limit on the accused to issue a response to allegations, reports The Washington Post. Under DeVos’ new proposal, schools would only be responsible for investigating allegations that are part of campus programs and are properly reported.

Lauren Book bashes federal proposal to change Title IX sexual harassment rules” via Ryan Nichol of Florida Politics

Cookie ethics: Congresswoman-elect asks if she’s still allowed to sell Girl Scout Cookies” via Nicole Gaudiano and Eliza Collins of USA TODAY — Abigail Spanberger is in a Trefoil over Girl Scout Cookie season. She’s one of her daughter’s troop leaders, and as she prepares for her new job representing Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, she wonders if she has a conflict of interest. “Can I go in the neighborhood and sell Girl Scout Cookies or are people going to feel compelled because I’m now their representative in Congress? Do you know what I mean?” she asked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Cookie case law from the House Ethics Committee may be wanting. They’ve never publicly addressed the sale of Girl Scout Cookies.


Advice for new governors: Ignore DC’s ‘gridlock, dysfunction and arrogance’” via Jeb Bush for the Tallahassee Democrat — As you navigate policy and politics in the coming months, understand that the one constant in today’s tumultuous and polarized political environment is the pathetic state of affairs in Washington. Washington is not just our nation’s capital; it is the capital of gridlock, dysfunction, arrogance and antics. In short, there is a tremendous amount of talk, but little real action. With a divided Congress on the horizon, matters will only get worse. So, here’s my advice to our nation’s governors: lead, don’t follow. Exploit the 10th Amendment wisely gifted to us by our founders. The role of governors is key in this current era of disruption and volatility. Governors have the power to reform, to innovate, to convene, to drive the conversation and to problem solve. They balance budgets, work across the aisle and are far more responsible for outcomes and accountable to their constituents than their federal counterparts are.


Appointed — Hamid BahadoriJohn WisemanJohn Gatlin and David John to the Florida Building Commission; Marcus Rowe to the Early Learning Coalition of Duval; Adam Mohammadbhoy to the Early Learning Coalition of Manatee; Darla Huddleston to the Early Learning Coalition of the Nature Coast; Jacob Horner to the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando; Anna Weaver to the Early Learning Coalition of Santa Rosa; Victor Mraz to the Early Learning Coalition of the Southwest; and Monesia Brown to the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region, Inc.

Personnel note: Alex Anderson joins OFR as Legislative Affairs Director — The Florida State law school graduate started at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation this month. Anderson previously was governmental relations coordinator for the Department of Education and director of legislative affairs for the Florida College System, according to his LinkedIn page. Before that, he was an attorney to the Office of House Majority Leader under then-state Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, and was staff attorney to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. Anderson got his undergraduate and graduate degrees in management from the University of Florida. He was admitted to legal practice in Florida in 2011.

— ALOE —

Don’t make these common holiday travel mistakes” via Christopher Elliott of The Washington Post — Waiting too long to book: It’s too late for a Thanksgiving travel deal, but you might still find a bargain for Christmas or New Year’s. No guarantees. Leaving too late for the airport: If you’re traveling on the busiest travel days of the year — just before or after a major holiday — give yourself an additional two hours just to be safe. Being unprepared: For too many people, travel preparations are an afterthought. The mistakes range from packing the wrong items to forgetting to gas up the car. Ignoring your ticket’s fine print: Several airlines have raised their luggage fees. Other carriers are making less obvious changes, such as tightening their ticket rules. That means inexperienced travelers may get blindsided. Traveling on the wrong day: The holiday travel hordes move in mysterious ways. When it comes to planning, you may want to leave even earlier and stay later to avoid traffic. Giving travel insurance short shrift: Insurance can protect you in the event of trip interruptions, delays or missed connections, or lost luggage, and it can cover medical expenses.

Brightline passenger rail in Florida: trains whisper, doors swish, bubbly flows” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — South Florida’s Brightline is not like taking the bus — either in fares or comfort. It is a mode of travel that, chances are, not many Floridians have experienced. The train whispers as passengers relax in leather reclining seats. Its doors swish on command from an LED-enhanced button. Attendants are chatty-friendly as they dispense beverages and snacks. If an airplane trip is about contorting people and luggage into a tubular trap, Brightline gives room to stand, stretch and stroll. There’s a cushioned bench at the end of each coach labeled: “A good place to chat.” Then there are the Brightline stations that are the stylish living rooms you don’t have, and, as the company’s reps never miss an opportunity to emphasize, are bright in personality. “Pretty freaking awesome,” said J.C. Sonkin, riding for the first time, traveling from West Palm to Lauderdale for a boat show.

Disney details new ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ attractions” via The Associated Press — It also announced that composer John Williams, creator of the classic “Star Wars” themes, is writing new music for the “Galaxy’s Edge” attractions, and shared a sneak preview. The two signature attractions of the “lands” now under construction will be “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run,” in which guests can take the controls in three different roles, and “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance,” offering an “epic battle” between the First Order and the Resistance. The attractions are to open at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in the fall.

Composer John Williams is scoring the music for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World Resort.

Your next Uber ride may have a minifridge stocked with snacks” via Kate Krader of Bloomberg — Cargo Systems Inc., the New York-based provider of in-car commerce for Uber and Lyft Inc., thinks differently. Its Cargo box — sort of like a traveling minibar without the alcohol — is in about 12,000 ride-share vehicles; passengers who catch a ride in one that’s equipped with the box can buy snacks and energy drinks on their way to a meeting or home from a very late night. Cargo expanded its accessibility, announcing a deal with Venmo, the mobile payment service beloved by the millennial set. Earlier this year, Venmo began working with merchants including GrubHub and Uber to let consumers transact with merchants.

Happy birthday belatedly to AG Bondi, super spox Max Flugrath, Capital City Consulting’s Gerald Wester state Reps. Jared Moskowitz, Amy Mercado and Elizabeth Porter and former Sen. Geraldine Thompson. Celebrating today is the great Karen Moore.

Delegation for 11.16.18 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State

U.S. Senate race to Tribbles, Hail Marys

The machine recount totals are in, for the most part, and there are no surprises. Gov. Rick Scott still leads Sen. Bill Nelson, by roughly the same margin as when the recount began.

All counties, with the exception of Palm Beach, completed recounts for the Senate race by the 3 p.m. deadline. Hillsborough County finished counting, but a small glitch delayed their submission beyond the deadline.

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, the lawsuits grew like Tribbles.

The timely reporting came when U.S. District Judge Mark Walker refused to extend the deadline as Nelson’s team desired. Secretary of State Ken Detzner orders a recount of overvotes and undervotes for the Senate race and Commissioner of Agriculture race.

Palm Beach still has the races for Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture yet to complete and previously received a five-day extension. Broward County proudly proclaimed that they had completed their task by Thursday morning, but had some difficulty loading the information into the state system and ultimately missed the deadline by two minutes.

While this should be a sign the election is finally nearing an end, we know that it is not. Multiple lawsuits and appeals are keeping Walker, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, busy enough to use a Star Trek analogy to lament “I feel a little like Captain Kirk in the episode where the Tribbles started multiplying,”

On Thursday morning, Walker got rid of one of the Tribbles/cases by ruling voters have until Saturday to clear up problems with mail and provisional ballots, while describing Florida as “the laughingstock of the world.” Republicans and Scott immediately appealed.

Shortly before the deadline, Walker ruled against Nelson’s plea to extend it.

Meanwhile, Scott and Nelson were both in Washington while the lawyers were back in Florida doing what election lawyers do. As Scott was meeting some of his would-be new colleagues, Nelson was holding what POLITICO described as an “unusual” news conference with newly re-elected Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

Despite the deficit facing Nelson, both Senators blasted Scott for his claims of voter fraud and said Nelson would ultimately prevail if the recount is conducted “fairly and thoroughly.” Nelson is filing the lawsuits to ensure those goals are accomplished.

On Wednesday, former Gov. Jeb Bush, who was front and center of the 2000 recounts, urged Nelson to stop the lawsuits. While not seeking to stop the recounts, Bush played on Nelson’s pride with his appeal on Twitter.

“Senator NELSON, please stop the lawsuits, let the votes be accounted according to Florida law and accept the results,” Bush tweeted. “Don’t tarnish your years of service to Florida.”

To the contrary, Nelson sued in state court to force a hand recount of all votes in Palm Beach County, not just overvotes and undervotes.

While the recounts were proceeding, Sen. Marco Rubio, who was putting out a tweetstorm immediately after Election Day, was more subdued of late. Some of the agitated version reappeared with a tweet using a football analogy to describe stealing an election.

Rubio was onto something. Elections in Florida are more about winning and losing as well as the tactics it takes to achieve victory similar to a football game.

During the final two minutes of a football game, timeouts, stepping out of bounds, and challenges to referees’ calls can turn those two minutes into a half-hour. Florida reached the two-minute warning when the polls closed 11 days ago, but the game or games, were just beginning.

Some describe Nelson’s strategy as a “Hail Mary,” another football term describing a last-second desperation heave into the end zone. The odds are long that Nelson will win in the end, but everyone is about to find out.

Rubio warns of China, Venezuela

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio has weighed in on numerous issues around the world, but two of his primary targets have been China and Venezuela. Now those two countries are involved in the same issue, prompting a stern warning from Florida’s junior Senator.

Marco Rubio takes a hard-line on two of his top issues — China and Venezuela.

A report from Reuters told the story of Venezuela obtaining the know-how from China on developing an identification card that can help the government monitor activities of citizens. Also, the technology to achieve this monitoring comes from another source of Rubio’s ire: Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE.

“This should alarm every #democracy in the Western Hemisphere: In addition to financially propping up the Maduro dictatorship,” Rubio tweeted, “authoritarian China is exporting ZTE technology that Maduro uses to blackmail his starving and sick citizens. RETWEET”

Rubio has been an opponent of ZTE doing business in the U.S., joining a bipartisan bill designed to reserve the Trump administration’s decision to allow them to re-establish in this country.

Gaetz, Democrat team up on veterans’ medical pot 

Medical marijuana, a signature issue of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, is the foundation for legislation designed to help veterans in need. Teaming with Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, the lawmakers introduced legislation designed to change the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical marijuana practices in an attempt to make cannabis a more viable treatment option for veterans.

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

The pair introduced three bills with three separate, but related objectives. The bills seek to learn more about how veterans use cannabis, to prepare better medical-marijuana education for providers and to protect the benefits of veterans who use marijuana.

“Medical cannabis has tremendous potential for veterans. It can reduce chronic pain, without the harmful side effects of opioids, and some early reports indicate that it may even have potential as a treatment for PTSD,” Gaetz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many veterans fear discussing medical cannabis with their doctors, for fear that their benefits will be jeopardized.”

Gaetz has publicly voiced his support for medical marijuana on several different occasions. He sponsored the Medical Cannabis Research Act in September, which was reported favorably by the House Judiciary Committee on which he sits.

The bill has 44 co-sponsors, including delegation Democrats Soto, Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings, plus Republicans Carlos Curbelo, John Rutherford, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ted Yoho.

The American Legion reported last year that 22 percent of veterans are using marijuana to treat a medical condition, and 83 percent of veteran households surveyed indicated that they think the federal government should legalize medical cannabis and 82 percent said they want to have medical cannabis as a federally-legal treatment option.

Brown’s appeal pushed back

As Democratic Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee returned to Washington this week to finish out his first term, the 12-term veteran lawmaker he unseated in 2016 was briefly back in the news. Former Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, who was convicted last year in federal court on 18 felony counts involving a charity scam, will have to wait a while longer before the court hears her appeal.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta pushed back the hearing on Brown’s appeal on 18 counts of fraud until sometime in 2019. It had been scheduled for Dec. 10.

Corrine Brown’s appeal gets pushed back until sometime next year. (Image via WESH-TV)

Brown previously appealed her conviction to the 11th Circuit, stating a juror was improperly dismissed from her trial. That juror made statements that the Holy Ghost told him Brown was innocent.

In the meantime, Brown will remain in a low-security federal prison in Sumterville, Lawson defeated Brown in the 2016 Democratic primary for District 5 for 9 percentage points and easily won re-election last week in the Democratic-dominated district.

Demings wants emergency hearing on Sessions

With last week’s sacking of Attorney General Jeff Sessions by Trump, some Democrats came to the defense of the former Republican Senator from Alabama. More said they opposed the move out of fear the President may be looking for a way to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

Among those upset by the move was Orlando Democratic Rep. Val Demings. She joined with Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee to write letters both to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and committee chairman Bob Goodlatte criticizing the “forced firing” of Sessions and their concerns over the potential impact it might have on the Mueller investigation.

Back in Washington, Val Demings is pushing for an emergency hearing on Jeff Sessions’ firing.

“It is our strongly considered judgment that the Justice Department should allow Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to continue to supervise this matter,” they wrote. Trump indicated Mueller would report to Whitaker.

In the letter to Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, the members said “We should hold emergency hearings concerning the circumstances regarding the firing of the Attorney General. At a minimum, Acting Attorney General Whitaker and former Attorney General Sessions need to be called to testify on this matter.”

Also signing the letter Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Florida’s other Democratic member of the committee.

Most Democrats challenged the constitutionality of Whitaker’s appointment. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel opined that Trump was not bound to appoint Rosenstein and Whitaker’s appointment was “consistent with the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution …”

The DOJ memo was presented to White House Counsel Emmet Flood.

Webster touts cash to veterans

Veterans are high on the list of members of Congress, and Republican Rep. Daniel Webster of Clermont is no exception. Last week, Webster, announced that more than $4.5 million had been returned to veterans in his district in retroactive, compensation, or pension payments since January 2017.

“Serving veterans is one of my top priorities,” said Webster. “We owe them a debt we can never repay. Yet, too often, our veterans’ attempts to receive the benefits or compensation they have earned are met with delays.”

Daniel Webster is stressing the importance of $4.5 million returned to veterans in his district.

When the bipartisan VA spending bill was first sent to President Trump in September, Webster touted its many benefits. Among those were funding for critical Veterans Affairs reforms, components of the VA Mission Act and claims processing for nearly one-half million veterans.

Webster also heralded funding to modernize the VA’s electronic health record system to provide seamless care as veterans transition to civilian life. Also, he mentioned Congress providing funding for mental health services.

Florida newbies part of swamp?

The rage among candidates running for federal office is to describe themselves as “outsiders” running against “insiders.” This usually refers to incumbents who are tied to “special interests,” otherwise known as lobbyists, former lobbyists or have spent years in government.

LegiStorm, a Capitol Hill watchdog, traced the results from Tuesday, which has produced a freshman class of 93 new members, with a handful of races still to be decided. Of those 93, four are former lobbyists in one way or another, with two of those four coming from Florida.

Just by winning her district, has Donna Shalala now become a swamp creature? (Image via AP)

Among those mentioned is Democratic Representative-elect Donna Shalala, who won the District 27 seat on election night. Shalala was counted as a former influencer because she lobbied on behalf of the University of Miami during her tenure as president of the university.

Another was Republican Representative-elect Greg Steube. LegiStorm included the new congressman representing District 17 by describing him as someone “who last year lobbied mainly on tax issues through his own one-man shop.”

Steube, a state Senator, was accused of “impropriety” by his primary opponent, GOP state Rep. Julio Gonzalez for lobbying the federal government on behalf of three clients.

While Shalala and Steube officially qualified as lobbyists at certain points in their careers, they can certainly make a valid claim not to be part of the “swamp.”

Lame duck gives Dems leverage

The U.S. House of Representatives is about to get interesting. Congress members are convening for the lame duck session in what will be the final two months of a Republican majority before Democrats take control of the House in January.

That means Republicans are likely to be aggressively tackling their priorities in during the coming weeks.

Democrats like Kathy Castor may have the upper hand during the lame duck Session of Congress.

“There are some outstanding appropriations matters that have to be finalized. The President was insisting on huge sums of money to build a border wall, and Democrats want to have a different tact on border security that involves better technology and border enforcement and that addresses the Dreamers,” said Congresswoman Kathy Castor, a Democrat. “I think that’s going to be very contentious.”

But the lame duck session means Democrats might have better leverage.

“The President will be forced to negotiate,” Castor said. “Now’s the time to get it done if he wants to get it done.”

So far Republicans have insisted on the border wall and tough border enforcement, but have refused to give up any ground on making sure Dreamers, kids and young adults who were brought to the country illegally as young children, can maintain legal status as they pursue educations in the country. Democrats also want a pathway to citizenship for those individuals.

Castor said there’s also a lot to look forward to after January when a new class of Congress members is sworn into office.

With a regained majority, she said to expect Democrats to push for preserving health care for people with pre-existing conditions

“They all said they want to protect pre-existing conditions, so we’re going to give them a chance to do that,” Castor said.

If they don’t, she said those new lawmakers would be held accountable.

Democrats also intend to push forward with issues about climate change, campaign finance and corruption reform and infrastructure funding.

Pelosi (sort of) responds to Problem Solvers

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has responded to a letter from U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and Darren Soto of Kissimmee and seven other Democratic members of the Problem Solvers Caucus who demand she commits to rules reforms to allow for more power for rank-and-file members of both parties if she wants their votes for House Speaker.

After meeting with the insurgent Democrats who wrote the letter, Pelosi’s response Wednesday made assurances but no such commitments.

Nancy Pelosi meets with Democratic critics, making no commitments.

“Democrats will restore transparency to the House so that the American People can weigh in on the legislation before us. We will respect the verdict of the election with representative ratios of Democrats and Republicans throughout our legislative committees. We will empower the committees by strengthening the path from markup to the floor, modernize the discharge petition process, and make it easier for bipartisan amendments and ideas to get a fair vote,” Pelosi wrote in a statement released by her office, regarding the Problem Solvers’ meeting and demands.

“The Democratic Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus have come forward with valuable solutions to restore the House of Representatives as the great marketplace of ideas our Founders intended.

“We had a positive and constructive meeting, and will continue to work together to develop changes to the rules that will break the gridlock in Washington and deliver results for hardworking Americans,” Pelosi concluded.

The Problem Solvers had demanded she make explicit, written promises to support their five goals and 12 specific proposals or they would not support her bid to return to the House Speaker’s job in the 116th Congress in January.

Pelosi’s response is not that.

“The meeting we had today with Leader Pelosi was productive, and the negotiations are ongoing. We are still waiting for a written commitment from her,” said Murphy’s Chief of Staff, Brad Howard.

Delegation weighs in on Israel

Recent attacks against Israel by Hamas again raised the specter of a war between the sworn enemies. By late Tuesday a cease-fire was in place, but key delegation members singled out the terror group for blame.

“I support Israel’s right to defend herself from attacks by Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups,” said Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami. “These rockets are falling on innocent Israeli communities, and I urge responsible nations to condemn these terrorists and help put a stop to their bloodshed.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is taking a strong stand on recent attacks against Israel by “Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups.”

Ros-Lehtinen, the outgoing chair of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee was joined by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Deutch.

“Hamas responds to targeted Israeli anti-terror operation by indiscriminately firing 300 rockets at Israeli towns and cities,” said Deutch. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that once again shows utter disregard for the lives of innocent Israelis — and Palestinians.”

Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also came down on the side of Israel.

“I strongly support Israel’s right as a sovereign nation to defend itself against Hamas and other terrorist groups that attack innocent civilians,” Rubio posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

He was joined by another South Florida Democrat, Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, in condemning the Hamas attack.

“I stand with the people of Israel and condemn Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas,” said Frankel, who also sits on the same subcommittee with Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch. “Israeli families should not have to seek shelter as sirens sound and rockets target their homes, killing and injuring innocent people.”

Restoring Trust for 2018?

It’s been more than a month since the expiration of the Land and Water Conservation Trust, but Florida Congressional Delegation chairman Vern Buchanan doesn’t want a lame duck session in Washington to end before funding for the nation’s National Parks can be restored. Buchanan has worked through the year to get permanent funding for this Trust, and one of his close allies in the fight, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, will soon leave Congress. Buchanan listed reauthorization as his top legislative goal before the close of 2018.

The clock is ticking on renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Trust. Can Vern Buchanan save funding during the lame-duck Session?

Since the expiration of federal funding, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition estimates national parks have lost out on more than $113 million. Started during the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency, the fund managed to stay alive for 53 straight years.

Over that time, more than $1 billion got directed to Florida’s ecotourism assets from Everglades National Park (a key part of Curbelo’s district) to Caspersen Beach in Sarasota (located in Buchanan’s backyard). But Buchanan said the Trust will be a “critical tool for funding conservation efforts throughout the United States.”

On this day in the headlines

Nov. 15, 2000 — After a week of recounts, lawsuits and political tension, Texas Gov. George Bush’s small Election Day lead over Vice-President Al Gore dwindled to an infinitesimal 300-vote margin Tuesday after Florida’s 67 counties reported their totals. Gore and other Democrats are confronting a 2 p.m. deadline today to justify to Secretary of State Katherine Harris why any other votes in Democrat-rich South Florida should be recounted.

Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled earlier Tuesday that Harris could compel counties to submit their votes to her office by 5 p.m. Tuesday. But in an apparent defeat for Republicans, Lewis said Harris could not “determine ahead of time” that amended returns would be automatically rejected after the deadline.

Nov. 15, 2011 — With growing signs Hispanic voters are turned off to GOP positions on immigration, Sen. Rubio is trying to use his national profile to deliver a message to his party: Tone it down. Rubio said Republicans should not be identified as “the anti-illegal immigrant party,” but should instead be known as “the pro-legal immigration party.”

“You’re talking about somebody’s mothers and grandmothers and brothers and sisters,” he said during an appearance on Fox News. A recent Suffolk University poll showed that if Rubio was on the ballot, the Republican presidential nominee would win Florida but is still little known to Hispanics outside the state.

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t.

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

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

Didn’t happen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet, tweet: 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— ALOE —

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee.

Last Call for 11.15.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evening Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Bill Day’s Latest


Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet, tweet:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

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

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

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

Jeff Greene, Jeff Greene & Associates: Green Roads West

Hannah Plante: Step Up for Students

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

— ALOE —

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

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

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

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

Last Call for 11.14.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evening Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good tidings came early.

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

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

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

#RecountTheTurkeys was a resounding, bipartisan success.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rick Scott keeps shooting off recount lawsuits.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Concentrated chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tweet, tweet:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

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

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

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

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

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

— ALOE —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Call for 11.13.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The filing is here.

Evening Reads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delegation for 11.13.18 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State

Florida’s latest recount drama: new players, issues

It has been 18 years since the state of Florida got rid of punch cards and ultimately replaced them with scanners or similar equipment. With no more hanging chads, what could go wrong?

Most of the country has moved on from the 2018 elections, but in Florida, we are in familiar territory. One week after the election, Florida is still counting votes.

Old territory, new faces. (Image via Getty)

By now, Brenda Snipes, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, is a household name. The problems coming from Snipes’ office has been well documented, including a finding by a judge the office violated public records laws.

In Palm Beach County, Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher said it would be “impossible” to meet a Thursday deadline to complete the recounts for Governor, U.S. Senator and Agriculture Commissioner. Without an extension, which the Secretary of State’s office says it is not empowered to give, she will have to certify the preliminary results posted Saturday.

This year finds an ugly atmosphere, especially in the Senate race. There was no statewide televised debate between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson, so they are making up for it during the recount period.

Scott is calling Nelson a “sore loser” who is “clearly trying to commit fraud to win this election.” Nelson demanded Scott recuse himself from any recount role saying Scott had “thrown around words like ‘voter fraud’ without any proof” and adding “the reason he’s doing these things is obvious: he’s worried that when all the votes are counted, he’ll lose the election.”

“Count all the votes” is the message coming from Democrats. This was fortified in an op-ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel titled Every Vote Should Count by Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton.

Republicans are also on message by saying “every legal vote should count.” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio began tweeting up a storm, complaining about Broward and Palm Beach County, but added: “Every vote legally cast & received within the time frame required by law should be counted.”

Never one to be outdone, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz mixed it up with snarky retorts to former Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham and former GOP Rep. David Jolly on Twitter. He recorded the point where he was removed from an area near Snipes’ office.

In the end, it is possible Scott will benefit from the work of graphic design as much as George W. Bush did in 2000. Some are blaming a design flaw in certain Broward ballots that may have led to a large undervote for the Senate race.

If that turns out to be the case, Democrats will turn on Snipes just as they did in 2004 when Palm Beach County voted out Theresa Lepore, who was responsible for the infamous “butterfly ballot” that many locals said cost Al Gore the 2000 election.

On Monday, Bush called for Snipes’ removal from office following the recounts. Bush appointed Snipes in 2003, and was subsequently re-elected, following Bush’s removal of Snipes’ predecessor Miriam Oliphant.

Republicans have an issue of their own with which to deal. Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen confirmed to Florida Politics that he accepted more than 140 ballots either from email or by fax. The state expressly prohibits such practices as acceptable methods of voting, despite the impact of Hurricane Michael.

Andersen said he had a protocol in place for the verification of military and overseas ballots, and felt that would be an appropriate procedure to use with voters displaced by the storm. He let Detzner’s office know his intentions and did not wait for a reply.

There are still a few more days before something new crops up.

Trump’s strange week

With an iPhone and a Twitter account, things are never quiet when it comes to President Donald Trump. While the national media often waits breathlessly to report on his latest tweets, the president made news in different ways over the past few days.

After the press briefing room blowup with CNN’s Jim Acosta, the president criticized April Ryan, a frequent Trump critic, calling her a “loser.” During a gaggle before leaving for Paris Friday, CNN’s Abby Phillip questioned if he wants interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to “rein in Mueller,” a question Trump referred as “stupid.”

They say there are no ‘stupid questions.’ Not with Donald Trump.

In Paris, the first scheduled event was a visit with allied leaders to the Alsne-Marne World War I cemetery, but Trump did not attend “due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather.” He was roundly criticized for his absence including a harsh admonition from Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, who described the president as “that pathetic, inadequate Donald Trump.”

With the deadly wildfires raging, Trump tweeted about the lack of forest management in California, concluding with a threat of “no more Fed payments!” Among others, the heads of two firefighters unions responded with heavy criticism of the remarks.

Perhaps the president heard because he sent another tweet Saturday praising recuse efforts and those affected. “God bless them all,” he said.

It was a strange week, even by Trump standards.

Two Floridians on Trump’s AG list

To the surprise of no one, Trump asked for the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the morning after Election Day. The president appointed Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, as the interim Attorney General, which brought controversies of its own.

The fear of impeding the election meddling investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is at the top of the list.

All agree that Whitaker’s role will be temporary with the only question being “how long?” Several candidates are being mentioned for the permanent job with two having Florida roots.

There’s talk (again) about Pam Bondi is taking a job in the White House.

Among those most prominently mentioned is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. She and Trump share a close personal relationship, but the specter of again raising the donation to Bondi’s campaign while the controversy of her office’s investigation into Trump University was ongoing would be a feature of any confirmation hearing.

Also under consideration is Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta. The native of Miami is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and was Dean of the Florida International University College of Law when appointed to his current opposition.

Other names mentioned include former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retiring Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, Solicitor General Noel Francisco and a small number of sitting or former judges.

Trump considers replacing Ross

As Bondi and Acosta are under consideration for joining the Trump cabinet, another may be on his way back home. According to media reports, Trump is considering replacing current Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross by the end of the year.

Two names apparently top the list of replacements. Linda McMahon, who currently serves as the Small Business Administration chief, or Ray Washburn, who is currently the president of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are said to be in the mix. Ross has resided in Palm Beach not far from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion.

Florida resident Wilbur Ross’ days may be numbered in the Trump administration.

Politico reported Senate Democrats are looking into meetings Ross held with major companies in which he holds financial interests. Soon, reports began to emerge that Trump could replace him with McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Washburne, whose name surfaced quickly after the mention of McMahon, is a prominent investor from Dallas and a leading Republican Party fundraiser. The company for which he serves as President, (OPIC), helps U.S. firms invest in overseas projects mean to reinforce U.S. economic and national security.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there were “No personnel announcements at this time.”

Pelosi seeks diversity, faces challenge

Several Democratic House candidates said that if elected, they would not vote to elevate current Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to Speaker. They were joined by a small minority of incumbents making the same pledge.

If those who committed followed through with their promise, Pelosi would not have the votes. But late last week, the veteran representative from San Francisco said she is “100 percent confident” she will be the next speaker.

Nancy Pelosi wants diversity, but she has to get the Speaker’s gavel first.

Other House races are yet to be called, which could give Pelosi serious problems. The Democratic rebels believe they will pick up more than one dozen defectors, which would be enough to vote in someone else if they can decide on a single candidate.

So far, none of those publicly committing against Pelosi comes from the delegation.

In addition to trying to reclaim her former position, Pelosi is encouraging members and committees to hire diverse staffs.

“House Democrats take great pride in the fact that our Caucus is more than 60 percent women, people of color and LGBTQ,” she wrote in a letter to colleagues. “We know that the diversity in our ranks is a strength and a reflection of the American people that it is our great honor to serve.”

Soto, Murphy named to Fried transition

Shortly after the election, tentative Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis appointed Republican Rep. Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach to his transition team. Now, another newly-re-elected congressman, as well as a former member of the delegation were tapped for the transition team of Democrat Nikki Fried should the ongoing recount confirm her election as Agriculture Commissioner.

As a recount begins, Nikki Fried names her transition team for Agriculture Commissioner.

While declaring victory, Fried named Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando as a co-chair of the transition team and former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy was named chairman. Murphy represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District for two terms before unsuccessfully challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016.

“I’m looking forward to working with her and Commissioner [Adam] Putnam on a seamless transition and helping her put together an office which will accomplish her priorities of protecting our waterways, being a fighter for farmers in Tallahassee and Washington, ensuring complete background checks, and expanding access to medical marijuana,” Murphy said.

Soto brings a public commitment to gun control to the Fried team, along with his other co-chair, Fred Guttenberg, a parent of one of the Parkland shooting victims and outspoken advocate for gun control. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates concealed weapons permits.

Mast, DeSantis fight Lake O delays

During the campaign, both U.S. Senators and members of the delegation from South Florida highlighted the authorization of a storage reservoir that would ultimately curtail the release of algae-infested water from Lake Okeechobee into local rivers and streams. Palm City Republican Brian Mast, joined by both Florida Senators, were among the loudest celebrants of the authorizations.

That ambitious schedule for the reservoir could now be in jeopardy. It was set to be constructed on land owned by the state and leased to New Hope Sugar Co.

Brian Mast is making headway in the fight to prevent delays in a Lake O water reservoir.

The New Hope lease, which was set to expire, was an agenda item at last week’s meeting of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Mast appeared before the board urging a delay on behalf of his constituents and Governor-elect DeSantis before voting on a lease extension.

“Given that the current lease does not expire until March and because we did not receive enough advance notice on this proposed vote to ensure that this extension would not delay construction of the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir, we urge the South Florida Water Management District to delay their planned vote tomorrow,” said Mast and DeSantis in a joint statement.

Despite the plea, SFWMD went ahead with a vote and granted a new lease to New Hope until 2027. This raised the ire of the Everglades Foundation, who blasted the board of the SFWMD and Scott, who appointed them.

Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation wrote to Scott “to strongly protest the illegal, shameful and undemocratic action this morning by your appointees at the South Florida Water Management District …”

“Your appointees ignored the urgent request of Governor-elect Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Mast to delay any action until the Governor-elect could be briefed on the matter. Your office was aware of our concerns about this matter but did nothing to intervene,” wrote Eikenberg, a former chief of staff to Gov. Charlie Crist.

Mast has made the water discharges a signature issue. Last year he introduced the Everglades FIRST (Flow Increases Rely on Storage and Treatment) Act designed to address water storage issues and prevent the toxic discharges.

“We cannot afford to wait another eight to 10 years to begin construction on a southern reservoir,” he said in a statement. “Every summer with toxic algal blooms means more businesses are forced to close, more people lose their jobs and more children get sick,”

It may take a while longer.

Rooney praises Trump for asylum reforms

Rep. Francis Rooney applauded a new executive order from President Trump that requires asylum-seekers to process their claims at ports of entry to the U.S. This is a much-needed action after a decade of abuse by people trying to exploit the system that was meant to protect people with legitimate cases,” Rooney said Friday on social media.

Francis Rooney is applauding Donald Trump’s work to eliminate ‘massive fraud’ in the process of seeking asylum.

But the issue is particularly important to the Naples Republican because he introduced a similar bill in Congress in January of this year, the Asylum Protection Act of 2018. When Rooney first filed legislation, which would reduce the application deadline for seeking asylum to 30 days, he stressed the bill did not seek to stop asylum-seekers but plug a hole in the system.

“The United States asylum application process is being abused by illegal immigrants and the people suffering most from this abuse are those who most need asylum due to legitimate fear of persecution in their home countries,” Rooney said in January. “On the other hand, baseless asylum claims have created a huge backlog at the immigration courts and, as a result, allow illegal immigrants to stay in this country for years pending adjudication. Congress needs to end this abuse now and protect those legitimately in need.”

Steyer, NextGen America host post-election debrief

On Wednesday, Tom Steyer and his NextGen America will host a post-election debrief panel in Washington D.C. to discuss the results of the 2018 midterms and what those results mean for the future of American politics. The panel will cover the role of young voters in the election.

Tom Steyer is holding a post-election debrief in Washington.

Steyer, a businessperson and philanthropist, originally founded NextGen American as NextGen climate in 2013. The focus has expanded from climate change to promoting progressive stands on several issues.

He is personally active in funding Democratic campaigns, which included pumping millions into the effort of Andrew Gillum for Governor.

Steyer will likely tout the significant increase the young voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, which was roughly 31%, the highest in the last 25 years. In unusually close governor races like Florida, Nevada, and Wisconsin, youth turnout was higher still, averaging 35 percent.

On this day in the headlines

November 13, 2000 — The state board responsible for certifying Florida’s disputed presidential election is poised to enforce Tuesday’s deadline for counties to submit their final vote counts, meaning nearly 2 million votes in five heavily Democratic counties could be discarded. Democrats will meet with Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris today to seek an extension.

“We will certify all in-state votes Tuesday,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford, a Democrat and member of the three-member Elections Canvassing Commission. “Any county that doesn’t have their results in by 5 p.m. Tuesday won’t be counted.”

During the campaign, Crawford publicly supported Gov. George W. Bush.

November 13, 2012 — FBI Director Robert Mueller’s top aide was told former CIA chief David Petraeus was having an extramarital affair that might have compromised national security a week before the Nov. 6 election, a congressional official said Monday.

The disclosure raises fresh questions why the FBI leadership withheld the information from the nation’s top intelligence official and the congressional committees that oversee the U.S. intelligence community until after President Barack Obama won re-election. Political outcry already had flared over the deaths of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, two CIA contractors, and a State Department staffer in a September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Veterans: Where Nelson, Scott agree

Sunday was Veterans Day with celebrations and parades across the state and the country. Florida is divided more than it has been in recent memory and three statewide still-to-be-decided election races offer ample proof.

At least there is one area where Rick Scott and Bill Nelson can agree.

Despite their deep divisions and growing personal animosity, Nelson and Scott can agree that veterans deserve the gratitude for what they have given to the country.

Sen. Bill Nelson

“Today — Veteran’s Day — we are reminded that we are forever indebted to those who served our country in uniform to keep us safe and our nation free.”

Gov. Rick Scott

“On Veterans Day, our nation comes together to honor those who bravely served our country. Today, take a moment to remember their service and thank an American hero for their sacrifice for FL families. We can never say enough about how grateful we are for our military & veterans.”

David, Murphy relaunch D.C. gridlock series

Former Congressmen and once U.S. Senate rivals David Jolly and Patrick Murphy are reinvigorating their “Why Gridlock Rules Washington” town hall series in Palm Beach Gardens.

The two are speaking at the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce Business Before Hours Breakfast series Wednesday.

Patrick Murphy and David Jolly are taking their show back on the road.

The two are meeting with groups around the country to spread awareness about dysfunction in Congress along with their bipartisan views on why it happens.

“Despite this hyperpartisan and divisive election season, this town hall will be a good chance for us to talk about how democrats and republicans can actually work together to solve issues. How we can work together to bridge our differences and how we can actually solve the gridlock that rules Washington,” Murphy said.

The two have already toured several college campuses including Berkeley, Brigham Young University, Pepperdine, Stanford, University of California Las Angeles, University of Southern California and Politicon.

Murphy is a Democrat and Jolly is a former Republican who recently shed his party affiliation and became an independent. The two have conducted more than 30 town halls nationwide including at the University of Florida, Florida International University, the University of Miami, Florida State University, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida.

The two former federal lawmakers launched their tour in 2017 to shine a light on what they see as broken components in Washington politics.

The town hall will be moderated by West Palm Beach WPBF 25 News television anchor Todd McDermott.

The two worked together in Congress despite partisanship haunting the halls of the Capitol on issues ranging from debt reduction and campaign finance reform to environmental issues and federal firearm policies.


Hey, #FlaPol, let’s #RecountTheTurkeys for those in need

As we approach a season of gratitude for our loved ones and good fortune, we are forgoing the usual Sunburn to ring in this year’s “digital” benefit for Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries.

Apropos as any name can be, this year’s drive is called “Recount The Turkeys.”

Metropolitan Ministries plans to help 20,000 families this holiday season, but right now, its stocks are low. The charity needs donations — now — to make sure everyone who wants one has a Thanksgiving meal.

That’s why we’re raising turkeys.

Former House Speaker Will Weatherford has challenged Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch to help raise money for half of the 500 turkeys to give to needy families this Thanksgiving.

So we’re putting out the word, starting a campaign on social media to raise funds under the hashtag, #RecountTheTurkeys.

Weatherford should have no problem raising his half of the turkeys, so we’re calling on his favorite “speakers” for help. And we’re also looking for friends of #FlaPol to add their names to the effort too.

A dedicated link to the campaign is here.

If you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent; if your candidate won, lost or is undergoing a recount as we speak, you can contribute to this good cause. Click the link now.

And remember, after you’ve made your donation, please take to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word by using the hashtag #RecountTheTurkeys.

Thank you in advance.

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