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Mitch Perry Report for 11.18.16 — John Morgan for the people?

What the hell do you have to lose?

That was, of course, Donald Trump‘s rather crude appeal to black voters in our last national nightmare of a campaign that mercifully concluded 10 days ago.

But that line could be one offered to Florida Democrats, in the wake of the movement to get John Morgan to run for governor in 2018. And the Orlando-based attorney, major Democratic Party fundraiser and grandaddy of medical marijuana released a statement Thursday indicating he’s not dismissing the idea out of hand.

“Before I go down this road any further I need a lot of time to think about it. There are obvious drawbacks and hurdles,” he admitted. “But the initial response in the form of phone calls, emails, and social media postings has been overwhelming. It is humbling.”

No doubt.

Morgan went on to say that unlike any other serious candidate, he doesn’t need to begin raising money to build up this statewide name ID. As he inimitably put it: “Politicians have to sing for their supper. Not me.”

The “for the people” populist says he he’l be jetting off to Maui and St. Bart’s “for the winter with my family” before he decided on deciding anything anytime soon.

Some populist, eh? Well, though there is only one Trump, one of the shibboleths that he may have shattered is that people can be persuaded a wealthy candidate can speak directly to their hearts and minds, and not be hypocritical in doing so.

Personally, I’m hoping that Gwen Graham, Bob Buckhorn, and Philip Levine all compete against Morgan for the 2018 nomination, and may the best person win.

Lord knows it would be interesting …

In other news …

Politics is still all local, and it ain’t over yet. Tampa City Council District 7 candidates Jim Davison and Luis Viera shared endorsement announcements.

Now’s also the time where people who want to be local or state party chairs throw their respective Stetsons (channeling Dan Rather) in the air: Sarasota state committeeman Christian Ziegler wants to be replace Blaise Ingoglia as RPOF chairman.

A couple of hours later, Ingoglia interrupted his vacation to announce that yes, he will run to remain chair of the RPOF.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Jonny Torres hopes to oust Deborah Tamargo as Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee chair.

Medical marijuana is coming — but the rules of the road have yet to be written, so the Tampa City Council followed other municipalities in calling for a moratorium on zoning any dispensaries.

For the Governor? John Morgan says he has ‘much to think about’ before making decision

John Morgan isn’t closing the door on a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

Morgan said he has been overwhelmed by calls for him to run for governor in 2018, but said he needs “a lot of time to think about it” before going down that road.

“I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support and love this week,” he wrote in a lengthy post on Medium. “But I have much to think about and do before I jump into a decision of this magnitude.”

The push to draft Morgan, an Orlando trial attorney, to run for governor began earlier this week. In an email to United for Care supporters earlier this week, Ben Pollara, the campaign manager and a Miami-based political consultant, encouraged Floridians encourage Morgan to run.

“I don’t care whether he runs as a Democrat, Republican, Communist, or Klingon, I want John Morgan to be Florida’s next governor. I want John Morgan to be MY next governor,” said Pollara in the email. “Tell John: We need you in Tallahassee. We need a governor who is truly, For The People.”

Morgan said he has a “pretty clear vision of what Florida’s next governor should do,” and outlined a series of issues — including decriminalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour — he’d like to see tackled. He also said he’d like to see the positions of lieutenant governor and agriculture commissioner abolished.

And Morgan said there’s no rush for him to jump in the race. While other candidates might need to announce their intentions early to raise money and build name recognition, Morgan is well-known throughout the state and would be able to “largely self-fund any campaign.”

“These campaigns begin too early and drag on too long,” he wrote. “I could start in 2018 with plenty of time to make my case to The People of Florida.”

The 2018 field is expected to be crowded. Rep. Gwen Graham, the daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, has expressed interest, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expected to throw his hat in the race.

Morgan was one of the main backers of Amendment 2, the medical marijuana amendment, pouring millions of dollars into the campaign. Floridians voted overwhelmingly in support of the amendment earlier this month.

“Passing Amendment 2 will be part of my life story. It was a singular moment for me. Hundreds of thousands will see relief. That is written,” he wrote. “The next chapter, I’m not sure of.”

Gwen Graham still not satisfied after receiving DEP records about sinkhole

U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is speaking out critically about the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, after she reviewed public records regarding the massive sinkhole at Mosaic’s facility in Polk County.

“Unless there are records that were not produced as required by law, the disclosures show an alarming lack of communication among state regulators about a threat to the health and safety of Florida families and our environment,” said Graham in a statement. “I am very concerned that we had a watchdog agency asleep at the wheel.”

In late August, a 45-foot wide, 300-foot deep sinkhole opened up at Mosaic’s New Wales plant , emptying 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the Floridan Aquifer. It was stunning news when it was released to the general public — weeks after the incident occurred.

Since that time, Graham, a potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate, has persisted in demanding the DEP and the governor’s office turn over all electronic communication relating to the toxic sinkhole. After weeks of delay, she is now has those records, but says they don’t convey much information.

The emails show that before the sinkhole was revealed in September, nearly all of the electronic communications regarding the incident were email exchanges between the DEP and Mosaic employees. A review of the records from the governor’s office and DEP (which can be read here) contained few internal communications between state employees concerning the sinkhole before it became public. And Graham notes while there were “several” emails from the governor’s office about her questions, there aren’t any “demonstrating concern” over the sinkhole and DEP’s response or examining potential solutions to the problem.

The public information released also includes many emails sent to the DEP from concerned citizens, both in Florida and around the country. There’s also a request from an aide to now-District 19 state Sen. Darryl Rouson contacting the governor’s office to determine if he can sponsor the bill Rick Scott announced in September that would ensure that the public is kept informed of incidents of pollution that may cause a threat to public health and to Florida’s air and water resources.

In her statement, Graham says “it’s also concerning regarding the state’s communications with its own scientists” and refers to one exchange from a geologist, who has spent more than 20 years working for the state, who raised concerns over the lack of information: “I’m working on that facility with EPA but no one told me about it [the sinkhole]. So much for communication.”

“These public records responses indicate communication has broken down within Gov. Scott’s state agencies,” Graham said. “With this kind of threat to Florida families and the environment, the governor’s office and DEP should have been ringing alarm bells and taking swift action. Nothing in these records indicates they were operating with any sense of urgency. Either we are still missing documents, or the state didn’t particularly care. Neither situation is acceptable.”

Joe Henderson: Facing many hurdles, Bob Buckhorn could make a good governor

The rebirth of downtown Tampa brought inevitable speculation that Mayor Bob Buckhorn might parlay it into a shot at the governor’s mansion in 2018. The job obviously has appeal for someone like Buckhorn, who likes a big stage and challenge.

Asking him to tip his hand about a possible run, though, has proved to be a necessary, but ultimately fruitless, endeavor.

As he told Mitch Perry of FloridaPolitics.com Wednesday, “Like a lot of people who are contemplating the future, you have to sort of sift through the carnage of last Tuesday and see what the landscape is, see whether or not there’s a path for victory for Democrats there, whether I’m the guy that can carry that torch, that I can inspire people to follow my lead.”

He then added, “ultimately it’s gotta come down to whether in my gut whether this is something that I want to do.”

Oh, I think a big part of him wants to do it. I also believe Democrats have a path to victory in the race to succeed Rick Scott. Whether Buckhorn can lead his party down this road and win is another question, though.

I like Buckhorn. I like his style. I like what he has done as Tampa’s mayor. I like his determination. I have known him for a long time, dating to his days on the Tampa City Council in the 1990s. I think he would make a good governor.

Whether any of that matters won’t be decided for a while and Buckhorn has a lot of hurdles to overcome, starting with his own party. U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham from Tallahassee has all but declared her intention to run, and high-profile attorney John Morgan might get into the race as well.

Graham is the daughter of one of Florida’s legendary politicians, former Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham. Morgan has been on TVs around the state nearly every night for years with his relentless “For the People” slogan, and voters just strongly approved his signature issue — making medical marijuana legal.

Escaping the shadow of either of those two would be a huge challenge for Buckhorn, or anyone else.

Plus, statewide Democrats may have a case of Tampa Bay Fatigue. There have been four races to be Florida’s governor in this century and a Democrat from the Tampa Bay area has been atop the ticket each time — Bill McBride (2002), Jim Davis (2006), Alex Sink (2010) and Charlie Crist (2014).

They all lost.

Buckhorn is a loyal Democrat, though. He went all-in for Hillary Clinton in this year’s election and worked for Barack Obama here before that. He has been outspoken in his disdain for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. That’s all fine, but Clinton lost, Rubio won, and Obama is leaving office.

One thing to keep in mind: Buckhorn isn’t afraid of losing.

He lost in a primary for state House seat in 1992. He finished third out of five candidates running for mayor in 2003. And then there was the humiliating loss to former pro wrestler and first-time candidate Brian Blair in a 2004 county commission race.

He came back to take an upset win for mayor in 2011 and was re-elected without serious opposition.

Buckhorn always says being mayor of Tampa was his dream shot. Whenever I’ve told him it looks like he never sleeps, he responds that there will time to sleep when his second term is up. Whether he decides to postpone that nap to run for governor remains to be seen.

At this point, I don’t like his chances.

But knowing Buckhorn, he will figure out a way to be involved even if he is not on the ballot. He loves this stuff too much.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.17.16 — Will there be a Democrat ready to challenge Nancy Pelosi?

If it were up to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Caucus would be voting for their leadership later today, where she would win another term as House minority leader, since there is no opposition to her leadership role.

Not yet, anyway.

In an ominous note for the 76-year-old representative from San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, dozens of rank-and-file lawmakers at a closed-door meeting earlier this week called on her to delay leadership elections for a couple of weeks.

Although their chances to retake the House last week were always slim, the Democrats did underperform in House races, and the question now is — can the opposition get behind one candidate by the time they do sit down to vote on leadership Nov. 30?

As of now, only Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan from outside of working-class Youngstown has emerged. “Who is the leader that can go into those Southern states, who is the leader that can go into the Midwestern states and begin to pull those voters back in our corner?” Ryan told the Wall Street Journal. He hasn’t officially decided to run. “A guy like me — it doesn’t have to be me — a guy like me could go into the Southern states, and we need someone who can go into every congressional district.”

There are also reports New York Rep. Joe Crowley is also interested in running against Pelosi.

The last time Pelosi was as vulnerable was in the aftermath of the 2010 midterms, when the Democrats were “shellacked,” in the words of Barack Obama.

Working in Pelosi’s favor is her formidable reputation as a fundraiser. She has raised a reported $568 million for fellow Democrats since taking over as House Democratic leader in 2002. Representing San Francisco is literally a turnoff for the same Democrats who worry the party has become a party of professionals and not the working class. The cost of living in SF has exacerbated dramatically in just the past five years due to the explosion of Google and other Silicon Valley workers who’ve chosen to move to the city and commute to the peninsula.

Mind you, this is a different discussion than who will head the Democratic National Committee, where it appears to be a battle between Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jamie Harrison.

In other news …

Bob Buckhorn says it’s time for some serious reflection for Democrats in Florida and around the nation following last week’s election.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lois Frankel want Steve Bannon out of the White House before he ever gets into it.

After waiting for weeks, Gwen Graham finally receives emails from the DEP regarding the Mosaic sinkhole in Polk County, and still isn’t satisfied.

As mayors and police chiefs from some of the biggest cities in the nation say they’ll continue to shield undocumented immigrants from being detained, Sarasota GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan once again calls on a ban on federal funds for all such municipalities. 

After an eight-year run on the Hillsborough County Commission that even his fiercest critics must acknowledge was extremely productive, Kevin Beckner is officially no longer a politicianafter he served his last day on the board on Wednesday.

Shawn Harrison is backing Jim Davison in the Tampa City Council District 7 race.

A new report says USF’s “Innovation Enterprise” contributes close to $395 million to the Tampa Bay area economy, according to a new report issued Wednesday.

Bob Buckhorn says it’s a time for soul searching in the Democratic Party

Lifelong Democrat Bob Buckhorn admits it’s been rough adapting to a world where Hillary Clinton won’t be the next president. The Tampa mayor went all-out for the party’s presidential nominee, including a weekend winter trip to New Hampshire just days before the first primary in the nation last February. And while Clinton did take Hillsborough County (along with the other major metropolitan areas of Florida), she lost the exurban and rural areas big time in ultimately losing to Donald Trump by just 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State last week.

Both the national and state Democratic party are in crisis, with the Democratic National Committee and Florida Democratic Party to decide on new leadership in the coming months. Like so many other Florida Democrats, Buckhorn has been here before.

“Obviously anytime you have a loss like this, there’s going to be a lot of teeth gnashing and soul searching,” the mayor said Tuesday.

“There will be a debate at the national level as to whether or not you move to a more progressive agenda, with people like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders; or do you try to come back to the center a la Bill Clinton in 1991 and 1992 to drive a message that the middle class mattered, that those rural white working class folks that he could talk to so well have got to be included in the discussion, that it’s not just driving up minority participation but have a message that resonates with everybody.”

Although he didn’t tip his hand as to where he comes down to the different approaches that will no doubt be debated by Democrats going into the holiday season, the mayor historically has come down on the centrist side, and has previously argued that is the only way to win statewide in Florida.

Buckhorn says the conversation needs to begins now among party members in Florida if they’re going to successfully defend Bill Nelson’s Senate seat (Rick Scott admitted on Wednesday what everyone has assumed is a given — he’s looking at running for Nelson’s seat). There’s also the potential to pick up a cabinet seat (or more) with with all four state office positions — governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and agriculture commissioner — all open seats in 2018. “We need a message that resonates, not just in the cities, but everywhere in the state of Florida,” he said.

Inevitably, any conversation with Buckhorn about politics leads to his own potential participation for one of those seats in 2018 — specifically governor.

Although one-term Congresswoman Gwen Graham has virtually declared her candidacy and there’s a movement afoot to draft Orlando attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan, Buckhorn isn’t showing his cards just yet, but admits he’ll need to decide by early 2017.

“Like a lot of people who are contemplating the future, you have to sort of sift through the carnage of last Tuesday and see what the landscape is, see whether or not there’s a path for victory for Democrats there, whether I’m the guy that can carry that torch, that I can inspire people to follow my lead,” he said, adding, “ultimately it’s gotta come down to whether in my gut whether this is something that I want to do.

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a job that I love coming to work everyday, and if I choose not to do this, I’m going to be perfectly happy, because I get to finish out an opportunity here as mayor that I have worked for my entire life. It’s a good position for me to be in. I do think the state needs new leadership, I think we need a regime change in Tallahassee. And I think that the Tampa renaissance is going to be a pretty compelling story to tell.”

A rundown of the real winners and losers from Florida’s general election

Tuesday’s slate of general elections in Florida certainly provided a list of winners and losers, and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Election Day.

Winners

Rick Scott — The Naples Republican was an early backer of the president-elect, comparing Trump’s rise to his own 2010 gubernatorial run and even penning an op-ed way back in January saying Trump captured “the frustration of many Americans.” No doubt he’s taking notes for his own rumored 2018 U.S. Senate bid.

Blaise Ingoglia — Republicans keep their majority in the Florida House and Senate. Rubio easily re-elected to a second term. And Florida helps send Trump to the White House. It’s a good time to be the head of the Republican Party of Florida.

Joe Gruters — The Sarasota GOP chairman stood by Trump through a series of controversies, and will go down as one of his most loyal supporters. Bonus: He cruised to victory in House District 73, crushing his Democratic opponent.

Brian Ballard — It took him three tries to find his winning horse, but what a bonanza is now in store for him. The president-elect of the United States of America is his client, for goodness’ sakes. The only question now is to which country does Ballard wish to serve as ambassador.

Susie Wiles — Does she know how to pick them? Wiles was an early supporter of Trump, even taking over his Florida operations. Like Gruters, she’ll go down as one of his most loyal supporters.

Roger Stone — All in on Team Trump from Day 1. He issued an ominous warning in early October about the WikiLeaks dump. Did he have inside info? Maybe. But his prediction of a Trump presidency was on point.

Steve Crisafulli — The outgoing House speaker dedicated much of his time to helping Trump in Florida, raising money for the president-elect and helping bring Trump to the Space Coast for campaign rallies. Could Speaker Crisafulli be on a short list for an administration post? He has said he would consider an offer if one came along.

Meredith O’Rourke, Trey McCarley, Kris Money — When Republican campaigns want to raise money in the Sunshine State, these are the fundraisers they turn to. So it’s no surprise the Trump team turned to O’Rourke, McCarley, and Money to help raise campaign cash from Florida donors.

Richard Corcoran — There will be a lot of friendly faces when the speaker-designate officially takes charge in a few weeks. No Republican incumbents lost their re-election bid, and the GOP even picked up a few seats.

Florida Senate Leadership — In a “Fair Districts” environment, there was talk that the GOP majority in the upper chamber was in jeopardy. Hardly. It’s now 25-15 Republican with sometimes-not-a-team-player Miguel Diaz de la Portilla not coming back.

Gwen Graham — By default, she is now the leader of the opposition to Republican hegemony in Florida AND, truly, the Florida Democrats’ only hope for redemptionBob Buckhorn and Phillip Levine should announce today they are not running for governor so that the field is clear for Graham to go to war against Putnam/Weatherford/Corcoran/Latvala/Beruff.

Matt Gaetz — He was already on his way to Congress, but something tells me he will thrive in a Trump’s Washington D.C.

Carole Crist — Eight years after marrying Charlie, she finally gets to celebrate at an election night party.

John Morgan — The only expletive-filled rant you’ll hear from this medical marijuana advocate today will be one of joy.

Ben Pollara and Brian Franklin — Beat off a serious opposition campaign to help guide the 2016 medical marijuana ballot initiative to a decisive victory.

Costa Farms — Floridians gave a resounding “yes” to medical marijuana, and the Miami-Dade grower is well-positioned to get a big boost in business from the growing market.

AFP-Florida — Knocked on more than one million doors, talked with more than three million voters by phone, flooded the airwaves and filled Floridians’ mailboxes all in the name of taking down “Pay More Patrick.” Looks like Americans for Prosperity’s $2.5 million investment in Florida’s Senate race worked.

Marion Hammer — Diaz de la Portilla single-handedly kept major pro-gun legislation from being heard in the Florida Senate. With DLP out of the way, Hammer should be locked-and-loaded next legislative session.

Team Rubio — If you separate the man from his machine, you have to give props to Rubio’s vaunted campaign staff, which led the Republican to a 717,000-vote margin over Murphy. Credit goes to Alberto MartinezTodd Harris, and Heath and Malorie Thompson.

Matthew Van Name – Crist is not the easiest candidate to manage, but in his first time as a CM, Van Name quarterbacked the former governor to victory.

Team Curbelo — Give Chris MilesNicole Rapanos, and Roy Schultheis a hand for Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s resounding victory in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. They’re young; they’re smart and they’re fiercely dedicated to Curbelo.

Team Mast — Jose Mallea and Zach Burr were part of the formidable team that helped turn Florida’s 18th Congressional District back to red, sending Republican Brian Mast, a combat veteran and political newcomer to Washington. This is one congressional seat you can’t buy.

Rob Bradley — Behind the scenes, he was a chief surrogate and top fundraiser for Keith Perry‘s narrow victory over Rod Smith in state Senate District 8.

Joel Springer — Perhaps the most underrated political brain in Florida politics, but the man behind the GOP’s Senate campaign operations seems always to win.

James Blair — Going into Tuesday, the talk was that the GOP would lose as many as 10 (!) seats in the Florida House. Not under Blair’s watch, as he laid claim to the title of “the new Frank Terraferma.”

Marc Reichelderfer and Chris Spencer — The consultant and the campaign manager for Dana Young helped fend off a strong challenge from a smart, well-financed Democrat. Of course, Young worked her tail off as her campaign made personal contact with 85,000 SD 18 voters.

Consensus Communications — The firm had its hand in more than 20 key races across four states, creating dozens of winning TV spots, digital ads and mail pieces. In Florida, the firm worked with worked with candidates up and down the ticket. The firm played a role in the campaigns of incoming U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, state Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young, state Reps. Jayer Williamson and Mike Miller, and Pam Gould for Orange County School Board. They also were involved in the Osceola School Tax initiative, and Orange County Charter Questions 1, 2, 3.

Front Line Strategies — Came out on top Tuesday with a host of wins in their back pockets. Winners included first-time candidates Bobby PayneChuck ClemonsByron DonaldsDon HahnfeldtStan McClain, and Bob Rommel. They also helped bring home victories for Reps. Bob Cortes, Manny DiazJay FantTom GoodsonMaryLynn MagarElizabeth Porter, and Jay Trumbull, and Sens. Dennis Baxley and Doug Broxson.

Tim Baker, Brian Hughes — Another day, another victory for Jacksonville’s dynamic duo, this time getting conservative Northeast Florida voters to sign off on the possibility of slots.

Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo — If you are the tip of the spear in Tampa Bay for the speaker-designate, you don’t lack for work. The two GOP operatives enjoyed several victories for their House campaign clients. Also, an attagirl to Ryan Wiggins for her work in HD 60 and other races.

St. Pete Polls — Despite what Marc Caputo thinks :-), the little polling shop that could nail the outcomes of Crist versus Jolly, Smith versus Perry, and Buesing versus Young. And, don’t forget, it was the first poll (back in July 2015) to predict Trump would win Florida.

Christian Ulvert — A rare bright spot for the Democratic consulting class, chalking up wins for Jose Javier RodriguezRobert AscencioBen Diamond, and Nick Duran.

Florida’s sugar cane growers — After ending up on the receiving end of attacks from Florida’s environmental activists, candidates receiving support from sugar cane farming companies like U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals won big Tuesday. Sugar industry lobbyists picked winning horses including Sens. Bill MontfordDana YoungKelli StargelDarryl RousonVic TorresBobby PowellGary FarmerDaphne CampbellDoug BroxsonGeorge GainerTravis HutsonRandolph BracyDennis BaxleyDorothy HukillJack LatvalaVictor TorresDebbie MayfieldEd RoussonRene Garcia, and Frank Artiles. In the House, candidates included Reps. Matt CaldwellRay RodriguesManny DiazPepe Diaz, and Holly Raschein.

Christina Johnson — The public affairs pro is $1,000 richer after winning bets against David Johnson that Trump would win Florida and the presidency.

Mixed bag

Marco Rubio — Good news? He won his re-election bid bigly. Bad news? With Trump on his way to the White House, he’s stuck with the job for the next six years.

Pam Bondi — All her hard work for Trump paid off, but it wasn’t all celebratory parties for Bondi. Her former boss, Mark Ober, lost his seat as the Hillsborough County State Attorney, in a tight, tight race.

Sarah Bascom — Any time your cousin loses a congressional race, it’s a tough night, but when you are the PR firm sending out the official statements from both the speaker-designate and the Senate president-designate (along with wins in CD 2, SD 18, and 40) things have a way of working themselves out.

Kevin Cate — Finally helps delivers a victory for Crist, but that “Clinton will win Florida in a landslide” prediction could haunt him.

Eric Johnson — The Democratic consultant could be in the losers column, but just the fact that he got Murphy — who was shown to be a highly flawed candidate — this far is a testament to how smart he is.

Jack Latvala — His ally DLP went down, and he was way out front in his opposition to Amendment 2, but that was a principled stand that may turn out to be very right once there are pot shops on every corner.

Editorial boards — Among Florida newspapers, only the Florida Times-Union endorsed Trump. But the ed boards were the de facto opposition campaign to Amendment 1, which failed to reach 60 percent.

My predictions — Last Wednesday on “The Usual Suspects,” I predicted Trump would win Florida by two or three points. But then I let Schale and Co. and those damn memos get into my head and I backed off my prediction. Grrr. Down-ballot, I called Rubio’s big win, the right percentage Amendment 2 received, Crist’s win over Jolly and Murphy’s win over Mica, DLP going down, and was the only person to suggest Amanda Murphy was in trouble. But I also predicted that some South Florida Republicans, including Mike Bileca, would lose.

The Biggest Loser

Scott Arceneaux — The Washington Generals won more than the Louisiana native, whose sole talent — beyond convincing otherwise smart people to hire him — is finding new ways to make the Florida Democratic Party less relevant each cycle.

Losers

Bill Nelson — Not that he thought he’d go unchallenged in 2018, but after last night, the bull’s-eye on his back tripled in size.

Allison Tant — See above what’s written about Scott Arceneaux.

Florida Democrats — There are not enough dumpster fire gifs created to articulate how much the donkeys suck.

Oscar Braynon — The incoming Senate minority leader had the chance to pick up a few seats in South Florida, but couldn’t get it done. The reason? He blames Trump.

“The Fortress of Democracy” — We’re still not sure about what Matt Dixon reported about in May, but if the shadowy Democratic-aligned Florida Alliance was supposed to make the state go blue, it failed spectacularly.

The voters of House District 36 — Republican Amber Mariano may turn out to be the Doogie Howser of Florida politics, but she’s only 21 years old. Swapping her for the capable and decent Amanda Murphy seems like the worst kind of party-line voting.

Mike Fernandez — The Miami billionaire and mega-supporter of the Bush family went all-in on Clinton. Looks like that $2 million pledge to help the Democratic nominee could have been better spent elsewhere. He also backed Murphy and Jolly.

Tom Rooney — An early supporter of Trump, Rooney was one of a few Republicans who withdrew his support after tapes of the then-nominee making vulgar comments about women were released. Rooney won re-election by a margin of 28 percentage points, but you have to wonder how much bigger the lead would have been had he stayed on the Trump train.

Ryan Tyson, Steve Schale, and other handicappers — Don’t worry guys, we won’t hold it against you. You can’t always be right.

Quinnipiac University and almost all the other pollsters — Q-poll’s final call of Florida: Clinton +1. Bet polling director Peter Brown also predicted the Indians would beat the Cubs.

Laura Jolly’s friends on Facebook — The feed of the wife of U.S. Rep. David Jolly was filled with warm, optimistic photos and messages from the campaign trail. There were even puppies! We’ll miss hitting the like button underneath her posts.

Candidates supporting buying up sugar cane farmland — These candidates include Mary HigginsCrystal LucasRobert SimeoneJohn Scott, and Charles Messina. As with the primary, voters delivered a strong rebuke among state House candidates calling for buying sugar cane farmland. The lack of candidates who will support a land buy in the Legislature dealt a significant blow to environmental activists’ plans for action next session.

Duke, FPL, Gulf Power, TECO — Poured millions upon millions of dollars into Amendment 1, but it wasn’t even close when the results came in. The utility companies need to figure out a way to stop being made out as bogeymen when they’re actually pretty good at delivering their product.

Florida Education Association — The teachers union went all in for Dwight Bullard in SD 40 and came away empty-handed.

Redistricting — It was supposed to reset the Florida Legislature, but did anything but. Democrats only flipped one district, which means the new Florida Senate looks a whole heck of a lot like the old Florida Senate.

Ruth’s List — Marley Wilkes and her team raised beaucoup bucks for pro-choice women candidates, all of whom save Daisy Baez, lost.

Tampa Bay Democrats — So much for Hillsborough and Pinellas being bellwether counties. They were as red as hamburger meat. A lot of grassroots activists deserve credit here, but my paisano Nick DiCeglie and his lieutenants Todd Jennings and Matt Lettelier deserve a shoutout.

John Dowless and Alan Byrd — Faced with the toughest challenge of his 20-plus-year congressional career, Rep. John Mica’s team couldn’t seem to get their guy across the finish line.

Mac Stipanovich, Rick Wilson, and so many others — How did that #NeverTrump movement work out for you? At least Mac and Co. are established enough that they can still say “F*ck you” to anyone who gives them sh*t.

Steve Hurm battling cancer, wife Gwen Graham announces

Tallahassee lawyer Steve Hurm, general counsel to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and husband to U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, is battling stage 4 prostate cancer, she announced.

Graham, who has openly discussed her interest in running for Florida governor next year, announced Hurm’s condition at a presidential rally in Tallahassee that featured Vice President Joe Biden campaigning for Democrat Hillary Clinton Monday, and again in a campaign communique she sent to supporters Tuesday morning.

“My husband, Steve, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Our friends, family, and community have been incredibly supportive as he fights back against the disease. We can’t thank everyone enough for their love and support,” Graham stated in an email campaign update that included a picture of a balding Hurm and her getting ready to vote.

Hurm is a former police officer who went back to school and stayed in college all the way through law school, and has practiced law both privately and in various capacities for the state, including as counsel for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

In both the Biden rally and the email, Graham praised Biden for turning his own family cancer battles into his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, aimed at making a cancer cure as high a scientific priority for the government as was a manned flight to the moon in the 1960s. Graham also used both occasions to urge people to support the Democrats who back more medical research, such as Cancer Moonshot.

“I had made the decision that I would be very personal talking about this because if we, in our experience, can help anyone, or if we, in our experience, can put a focus on the importance of medical research into a host of illnesses we suffer from,” we should, she said. “The cost associated with research is so insignificant compared with the cost associated with caring for folks who have cancer, or who have Alzheimer’s or who have a host of other illnesses. Not only the cost of the treatment, but the cost on the families, and the caregivers.

“So it’s another example of who you elect does make a difference. And in this one, it’s personal,” she said.

Joe Biden connects with campus crowd in Tallahassee

A sunglasses-wearing Vice President Joe Biden wanted a Tallahassee crowd on Monday to “imagine” a world with Donald Trump as president.

It wasn’t pretty.

“We don’t have to make anything up; we just have to say what they want to push,” Biden said during a midday get-out-the-vote rally at Florida A&M University. Several times, he prefaced his comments with, “This is not hyperbole.”

For example, “does anyone think a Trump administration will continue with $300 million in Pell grants,” allowing historically black colleges and universities to grow? he asked.

“Imagine what happens, imagine all the lost opportunities,” he said. If Trump wins, “what message does that send about who we are?”

Biden was on a last-minute swing through the Sunshine State the day before Election Day, stumping for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He was next scheduled to appear at a rally in St. Petersburg.

The vice president alternated from quiet to shouting, driving home his message of a Trumpian world without hope.

“This is about what kind of life you will be able to live,” Biden said. “This is not a joke. This is about what we value.”

He suggested Trump and incumbent Republican senatorial candidate Marco Rubio had their “thumbs in their ears,” pushing tax cuts for the wealthy “but none for child care.”

Biden finally recalled riding the train with his family to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., when “a black man,” Barack Obama, would become the first African-American president.

“I looked out over the Third Street Bridge, and I said ‘anything is possible,’” he said, firing up the crowd. “This is no time to turn that train around. It’s time to step on it, and with your help, we will own the finish line in the 21st century.”

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, had introduced him with the warning: “The Obama-Biden legacy is in your hands.”

She said women “must be treated as equals, with dignity and respect.”

Mrs. Biden also alluded to the “dark days” that recently faced her family. Biden’s son, Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran and former attorney general of Delaware, died of a brain tumor last year. He was 46.

“Every single vote matters,” she added. “Convince your friends, these must be days of action; you must vote.”

Other introductory speakers included Congresswoman and possible 2018 gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and North Florida congressional candidate and former state senator Al Lawson, all Democrats.

Where might there be a surprise on Election Night in Florida?

If the chalk won every game and match-up, there would be no Las Vegas or Macau. There would be no March Madness.

If the favorites won every time, there would be no reason to even turn on the television. We watch and love sports and gambling because the underdogs can and do win.

In no-limit Texas hold ’em poker, holding a pair of aces gives a player an 87 percent chance of winning against a seven-deuce offsuit before the flop. But that still means, over time, the worst hand in poker still wins 13 percent of the time.

The same thinking can be applied to politics. Despite advantages of name recognition and money, upsets occur. There’s no better recent example in Florida politics than in 2012 when the Democratic challenger defeated Republican Chris Dorworth, who was at the time in line to become speaker of the Florida House.

Dorworth’s aces were cracked by Mike Clelland‘s seven-deuce offset. I don’t like beating up on Dorworth anymore (especially after this weekend, when he got married), but I have to ask, is there another Dorworth situation in the cards for Tuesday?

Looking at the congressional races in Florida, the opportunities for an upset are thin. Whatever changes that were to be made to Florida’s congressional delegation have already happened (Gwen Graham not running, Corrine Brown losing to Al Lawson, etc.). This isn’t to say there aren’t interesting races to watch Tuesday because there are in CD 13, 18, and 26. However, the underdogs in those races are not exactly Davids facing Goliaths. Those three races are basically coin flips at this point.

The one competitive congressional race which is not a coin flip is CD 7 where Republican incumbent John Mica is attempting to hold off Stephanie Murphy. The smart money has been watching this race for more than a month as Murphy has closed on Mica, so it would not be out of left field were Murphy to knock off Mica. Still, if you had asked political observers a year ago if John Mica was in trouble of losing his seat, the answer would have been a loud ‘No.’

At the legislative level, its important to separate the competitive from the earth-shattering. There are competitive races in SD 8, 13, 18, 37, 39, and 40 as well as half a dozen state House races, but, again these are basically coin flips. Republican Dana Young is up single digits over Democrat Bob Buesing in SD 18; no one can safely predict who will win in the South Florida seats; and the House races will largely be decided by the top of the ballot.

BUT! And this is a huge but … a Sir Mix-A-Lot-sized but … were there to be a Dorworthian surprise Tuesday night, it will probably occur in some of the state House races in South Florida.

Again, a huge disclaimer that I am not suggesting that these upsets will occur, but there has been talk — over the last two weeks, especially as Donald Trump was tanking and through South Florida’s “gangbusters” early voting turnout Sunday — that if a wave the size of the one in the movie “Poseidon” were to hit, some Republican House candidates could be in trouble, such as Carlos Trujillo in HD 105 and Michael Bileca in HD 115

Mind you, I re-watched the movie “The Big Short” this weekend, so my mind is thinking in terms of failing tranches. Not that Trujillo or Bileca or any of the other South Florida Republican campaigns should be compared with subprime mortgages. They’re not. They’ve run AAA-rated campaigns.

But that’s the thing about black swans. They appear so rarely in nature, they are almost impossible to predict. The best you can do is look in the direction they might appear.

And on Tuesday night, that may be in South Florida.

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