Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.25.18
Sunset at a crowded Naples Pier at 878 5th Ave South in Naples, Florida on January 22, 2012

Sunset at Naples Pier

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

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

Florida’s population has surpassed 21 million people, according to estimates found on The site houses thousands of metrics on Florida and each of Florida’s 67 counties. The Florida Chamber Foundation touted the news: “As the third largest state in the nation — that as of 2017 was steadily outpacing growth in states like New York — and with an economy that this year topped $1 trillion, Florida’s growth brings opportunity to our state.”

No one has won the big Powerball prize, so the estimated jackpot now grows to $750 million — the fourth-largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history. The next drawing will be Saturday.

On Wednesday night, when it was at $620 million, the Powerball jackpot looked sort of puny given all the attention lavished on the $1.537 billion Mega Millions jackpot won in South Carolina on Tuesday. But with two giant prizes in one week, it was hard not to compare.

Only three lottery jackpots have been larger than the next Powerball prize.

A top of Sunburn happy birthday wish to Mike Griffin, one of the very few people I would ‘cross the bridge’ to hang out with (other than Bob Buckhorn or Tony DeSisto).

Mike has (at least) two great accomplishments under his belt for 2018, one much more significant than the other. The first — and certainly less important of the two is that he was named to the INFLUENCE 100, Florida Politics’s listing of the 100 most influential people in Sunshine State politics. His second achievement was he and his incredible wife, Melanie, bringing home their baby boy, Maverick.

Here’s wishing Maverick’s dad a very happy birthday.

SpottedJoe Clements, Matt FarrarSara Clements of McGuire Woods (Joe’s better half) and Anna Alexopoulos Farrar, CFO’s chief spokesperson (and Matt’s better half), at last night’s Open House of the semi-new SDS Headquarters on Tennessee and Meridian in Tallahassee.  Also attending: Amanda Bevis, Ryan Smith of McNicholas and Associates, and Allison Aubuchon. On the menu was Mamma Mia and Mr. McSeeks from Mac Shack and plenty of adult beverages.


—@MarcoRubio: An attack on an American who happens to be a Democrat, Republican or Independent is an attack on America. The terrorist behind this will soon find out that while a free people have politics that are conflictive, if you try to kill any of us you will have to face all of us.

—@PressSec: This is an ongoing situation that President Trump and his admin. are monitoring closely. Our condemnation of these dispicable [sic] acts certainly includes threats made to CNN as well as current or former public servants. These cowardly acts are unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.

—@DylanByers: Put the debate about President Trump’s past rhetoric aside … More pressing question is what will President Trump do now: He has called for unity. He has a rally tonight. His rallies follow a familiar script, including attacks against Democrats and the media. Will that change?

—@Fineout: .@realDonaldTrump announces MAGA rally in Fort Myers. As of right now, @FLGovScott won’t be there. “The governor is focused on hurricane recovery and we will keep everyone updated on any changes to the campaign schedule,” said @ChrisHartline

—@AGPamBondi: Honored to join @POTUS today as he signed the SUPPORT Act — the single largest legislative package addressing a single drug crisis in history. President Trump’s leadership & support in combating the opioid crisis is tremendous & I’m grateful for all he is doing to help save lives.

—@VoteJavi: Anyone else notice that neither DeSantis or Gillum are wearing a US Flag lapel pin? DeSantis is wearing a military ribbon, Gillum nothing. #FLGovDebate

—@MarcACaputo: This Florida gubernatorial debate moderator is committing the classic debate moderator mistake: not letting the candidates debate. This is about them, not you, not your prearranged questions

—@DeFede: This Florida governor’s debate is just awful. And once again I blame the format – this is an outdated model that focuses more on silly 30 second time constraints and the moderator’s constant interruptions and less on actually exploring the important subjects.

@GrayRohrer: JMI study  . . . . “non-partisan”

—@JuanPenalosa: .@RonDeSantisFL says @AndrewGillum is going to ban all handguns and then follows up by saying he is going to confiscate. Whaaaaattttt? That’s (a) not true; (b) crazy

—@LMower: Can someone explain how the Florida governor would have any say over ICE detainers? I thought police chiefs and prosecutors made those decisions.

—@KirbyWTweets: Florida gubernatorial debate moderator closes the proceedings by saying, “I think it’s been a great night for American democracy.” cc: @PolitiFact

—@CHeathWFTV: There are people out there who won’t care about the Gillum’s ticket, but absolutely care about Trump’s emoluments. -and- There are people out there who have not cared about Trump’s emoluments, but now care about the Gillum’s ticket. Tribalism is a hell of a thing.

—@SteveSchale: Sort of interesting, albeit random stat. Looking at total voter turnout by county, to date. For Republicans, their highest turnout percentage is Lee County (Ft Myers) – 27% turnout so far. For Dems, highest turnout is Sumter– The Villages. Dem turnout = 23%.

—@Montel_Williams: Carlos Curbelo is everything I hoped the GOP might become. He’s a good man whom I had planned to vote for. I’m going to vote for @DebbieforFL … My kids’ & future grandkids futures are on the ballot. For the first time in my adult life, I will vote an entirely democratic ticket.


As of Wednesday, nearly 1.2 million mail ballots have been returned to county supervisors of elections.

Another quarter-million voters had ticked a box through the first three days of early voting.

That amounts to 266,447 more ballots in supervisors’ hands than the last count released Tuesday night.

By party, Republicans have turned in 520,683 mail votes and made another 102,899 early votes while Democrats have mailed back 462,366 completed ballots and filled in another 108,366 at the polls. Third- and no-party voters have combined to cast 253,937 votes.

Just like Tuesday, Republican voters hold a 43 percent share of the 1,448,251 received so far with Democrats edging closer toward a 40 percent of the total vote. Other voters account for the remaining 17 percent of ballots cast.

Though nearly 1.2 VBM ballots have completed their round trip, there are still more than 2.1 million that have been delivered to voters but not sent back. Of those, 765,801 went to GOP voters, 881,866 went to Democrats and the remaining 478,771 in the hands of minor-party and unaffiliated voters.


Suspect packages had this in common: A return address for Debbie Wasserman Schultz” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Suspicious packages sent to Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire George Soros all had one thing in common: the return address was U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s office in Sunrise. A package sent to an incorrect address for Holder in Washington, D.C., was returned to Wasserman Schultz’s Sunrise office, prompting the evacuation of her office. The return address included misspellings of the street name, Wasserman Schultz’s last name and the state of Florida. A package addressed to Brennan and sent to CNN headquarters in New York had the same spelling errors as the package sent to Holder. Brennan does not work for CNN. He is a contributor to MSNBC. Packages for Obama and Clinton contained similar return addresses, according to law enforcement officials.

All the suspicious packages had one thing in common, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s return address.


Remember the good old days of 2014 when the biggest dispute in the Florida Governor debate was whether Charlie Crist should be able to use a fan?

Now, after two debates between current candidates Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis, it’s clear that the gulf between Florida’s major parties has never been wider and about half the state is going to be gigantically depressed by the outcome on Nov. 6.

In keeping with the theme of the week, the controversy surrounding Gillum’s use of a ticket to “Hamilton” on Broadway, it’s a good thing that a duel like Alexander Hamilton had with Aaron Burr is against the law.

At a distance of just a few paces Wednesday night though, Gillum and DeSantis fired plenty of verbal shots at each other, including Gillum’s spelling out n-i-g-g-e-r when making a point that one of DeSantis’ supporters referred to Barack Obama by that term.

“Now I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

Ron DeSantis doesn’t like Andrew Gillum. And vice-versa.

DeSantis, it should be noted, came as close as he has yet in this campaign to losing his cool in public. The exchange was about an appearance the candidate made at the David Horowitz Freedom Center conference, where DeSantis praised Horowitz and said he admired the organization.

Horowitz has made racially charged about Obama.

Confronted with this, DeSantis lashed out, “How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?”

Well sir, in the same way Gillum was supposed to have made sure there was no question that he paid for his ticket to Hamilton – a story that blew up earlier this week after the Tampa Bay Times reported that it came from an undercover FBI agent.

Early in Wednesday’s debate, Gillum acknowledged, “I should have asked more questions to make sure everything was above board” instead of assuming his brother had exchanged a ticket to a Beyonce concert for the Hamilton seat.

Gillum said, “I take responsibility for not having asked more questions but let me tell you – I’m running for Governor. In the state of Florida, we’ve got a lot of issues. In fact, we’ve got 99 issues and Hamilton ain’t one of them.”

The whole night was like that.

Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis battle over FBI probe, racist attacks” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

First on #FlaPol –In robocall call, father of slain Parkland student says ‘Andrew Gillum is dangerous for Florida’” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics – Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead in February, is featured in a new robocall paid for by DeSantis. In the 45-second spot, Andrew Pollack suggests a DeSantis victory will “ensure that no parent loses their child in a school shooting again.” Gillum, on the other hand, is “now saying that he will defund the police, and keep them out of our schools,” Andrew Pollack says.  “That’s wrong and it’s dangerous,” continues Andrew Pollack, who introduces the call by noting his relationship to Meadow Pollack. “And it puts our kids at risk.”

Gillum says Florida can’t do single-payer alone” via CBS News — “I’ve endorsed ‘Medicare for All’ at the federal level,” he said. “I do not believe a state can accomplish that on its own. If a state did, it would probably find itself bankrupt pretty quickly, and largely because in a state like Florida, as you get the sickest pool coming to one location, the system would collapse under the weight of it.” Should a larger group of states decide to marshal their economic leverage, however, Gillum thinks “Medicare for All” would be worth considering. “If states were to make that move, the options might be to find a consortium of states who might be able to come together — cull together the buying power and the negotiating power of a collection of states to figure out whether or not we could, in fact, increase access and lower costs,” he said in an interview in Jacksonville.

To view the interview, click on the image below:

Ron DeSantis takes lead in matching funds” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis received a check for $323,762 on Friday, while no funds were sent to Gillum’s campaign. DeSantis has received a total of just over $2 million from the state through the voluntary program, which matches individual contributions of $250 or less to statewide candidates’ campaign accounts. Gillum, who surpassed DeSantis in terms of matching-funds on Oct. 17, has received nearly $1.73 million from the state program. In all, almost $7.45 million in matching funds have gone to nine candidates for governor and Cabinet seats this year.

Gillum ties DeSantis to racist robocalls day after asking they receive no ‘attention’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A day after saying the calls should not receive “any more attention than they already have,” Democrat Gillum accused his gubernatorial opponent of using “bigotry as a political ploy” after DeSantis tried to distance himself from overtly racist robocalls. In the statement, Gillum’s campaign hammered DeSantis for his response to the calls and said the former congressman needs to denounce Road to Power, the Idaho white supremacist group that claimed responsibility. “Making excuses for racist robocalls is disgusting,” Johanna Cervone, a spokeswoman for Gillum, said in a statement. “Using bigotry as a political ploy is just further evidence that Ron DeSantis will stop at nothing to divide our state.”

Beyond Hamilton, emails and texts raise questions on Gillum’s trips with lobbyists” via Lawrence Mower and Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — “If I had to do it again, I would have been a lot more circumspect about the people who are allowed to be around me and come into my space,” the Democratic nominee for Florida governor told Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s Meet the Press Daily. “But you know what, you live and you learn and you move on.” But records released hours earlier by Adam Corey‘s lawyer contradict Gillum’s portrayal of himself as naive, complicating the Tallahassee mayor’s bid for Florida governor and forcing voters to wonder whom to believe. Whether the controversy swirling around the case will matter to voters is another question. Floridians voted twice for Gov. Rick Scott despite his connection to the largest Medicare fraud in U.S. history at the time. And DeSantis also faced an ethics complaint this year over a condo he rented from a campaign donor. DeSantis resigned from Congress before the case was resolved.

“You have to move on,” Andrew Gillum tells MTP host Chuck Todd.

’This is what local corruption looks like’: In Florida, DeSantis highlights reports that an FBI agent bought a ‘Hamilton’ ticket for Gillum” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — “This is what local corruption looks like,” DeSantis said during an appearance on Fox News, seeking to leverage the issue in the closing weeks of a race in which polls have shown him trailing. DeSantis’s comments came the day after text messages were made public that appeared to contradict previous statements by Gillum, the current mayor of Tallahassee, whose city has been the subject of a federal public corruption probe.

Jeanette Nuñez featured in new Spanish-language ad — A new Spanish-language ad produced by the Republican Party of Florida is featuring Lt. Gov. candidate Nuñez. In the 30-second ad airing statewide, Nuñez shares plans she and running mate DeSantis have to continue Florida moving in the “right direction.” Among the promises: “We want schools to have resources so that our children receive the best education.” “We will not raise taxes.” “We will always protect water quality and the environment and provide more opportunities for our families.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Gillum will attend ‘Vote Early, Vote Loud’ rallies at universities across South Florida: 9:45 a.m., Florida International University, Graham Center Lawn, 11200 SW 8th St., Miami; 11 a.m., Florida Memorial University, Lou Rawls Center for the Performing Arts, 15800 NW 42nd Ave., Miami Gardens. At this event, civil-rights hero and U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will join Gillum; 1 p.m. Florida Atlantic University, Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

Assignment editors — Democratic former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe joins local leaders and health care professionals for a news conference to “highlight DeSantis’ refusal to release a health care plan and his record of voting to take health care away from Floridians,” 11:30 a.m., Lions Park, 2550 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers.


Ann Scott offers the softer side of Rick Scott in ad about their marriage” via Scott Powers of Florida Powers — The story is told as the couple sit on a couch, starting with how they met, how he joined the Navy, how she worked full-time as he went to law school, and how they started out living in a home with furnished with sleeping bags, a Coleman cooler, and apple crates. The one-minute ad, “Our story” also shows them engaging in mild marital banter, and ends with video clips of them with their grandsons. “I spotted him across the library,” Ann Scott begins. “Love at first sight,” Rick Scott says. “That’s what he says,” she replies.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

New Bill Nelson ad highlights editorial endorsements — The latest ad from the Nelson for Senate campaign features widespread support Sen. Nelson has received from editorial boards across the state. The ads overreaching theme: Bill Nelson puts Florida first. Always has. Always will. The ad cites one of the endorsements saying, “Nelson’s moderation perfectly reflects his state.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:



How many Americans could live under trifecta state governments after the 2018 elections?” via Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew — With most of the nation’s focus on Congressional elections, we wanted to take a moment to dig deeper into trifectas — where one party controls a state governorship and the state legislature … Our elections analysts crunched the numbers looking at possible best-case scenarios … Florida, now a trifecta in which the GOP controls the Governor’s Office and both chambers of the Legislature, is rated “highly vulnerable.” The Governor’s race is listed as a “tossup,” seats that could flip in the Senate are at 4 out of 20 (20 percent), and seats that could flip in the House at 17 out of 120, or 14 percent.

Jimmy Patronis add touts ‘Sunshine’ and fiscal health” via the Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis’ buoyant half-minute spot is full of reassuring images and statements regarding Florida’s economic opportunity and fiscal health. “This sunshine, this weather,” Patronis says, “are not the only reasons people choose to live in Florida. It’s the jobs, the opportunities.” Patronis’ ad spotlights the Mercatus Center ranking Florida as No. 1 in “fiscal health,” as well as reportage from this website noting that state debt has been cut by $10.5 billion in the Rick Scott era. “The weather helps, but our economy is what really makes Florida shine,” the CFO asserts.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Crime victim stories featured in third wave of Marcy’s Law videos — Marsy’s Law for Florida is launching the third set of videos in its social media campaign in support of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida, which would provide crime victims and their families with enforceable rights in the Florida Constitution. The videos feature two parents of crime victims sharing their deeply personal stories about the criminal justice system and urging voters to support Amendment 6 to strengthen protections for crime victims and their families without weakening or removing any of the rights currently afforded to those accused or convicted of a crime.

To watch Gail Stewart of Tallahassee, whose son was hit by an impaired driver, click on the image below:

To watch Pat Tuthill of Tallahassee, whose daughter was sexually assaulted and murdered, click on the image below:

Koch network endorses Amendment 11 for ‘fairer’ property rights” via Florida Politics Two Koch network advocacy groups came out Wednesday in support of proposed Amendment 11 to the Florida Constitution, which would ease restrictions on noncitizen ownership of property and promote criminal sentencing reform. The LIBRE Initiative, which seeks to “empower” Hispanics via the free-enterprise system, and Freedom Partners — “dedicated to protecting freedom and expanding opportunity for every American,” according to its website — issued written statements endorsing the measure. IBRE focused on language eliminating the Legislature’s authority to bar “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning, inheriting, buying, or selling property. Freedom Partners, meanwhile, addressed language clarifying the Legislature’s authority to apply criminal sentencing reforms retroactively.

Daily finance reports show Nancy Soderberg building cash lead” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Soderberg has built a sound lead in the money race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, and 48-hour finance reports filed this week show the Democratic nominee continuing to reel in the cash. … Through Wednesday, Soderberg had reported a total of $48,800 raised so far this week. … Soderberg’s opponent, Republican Mike Waltz, filed a trio of financial reports as well, even though his rake in those filings adds up to $10,700. … The reports represent the first finance reports since Soderberg posted a $1 million haul for the third quarter of the year, more than doubling Waltz’ $439,000 third-quarter report. … As of Sept. 30, Soderberg had raised more than $2.5 million for her CD 6 run and had more than $500,000 banked while Waltz’ cumulative total hit $1.67 million with $465,000 banked.

Kristen Carlson piles on cash for final sprint in CD 15” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Carlson added another $79,000 for her campaign to Florida’s 15th Congressional District from the Republican column in November. A pair of 48-hour finance reports uploaded to the Federal Elections Commission this week shows the Democratic nominee to replace U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross reeled in a long list of contribs totaling $70,800. … Her opponent, Republican state Rep. Ross Spano, posted a quartet of 48-hour reports for his campaign, though they combined to $23,500, or about a third of Carlson’s haul for the week so far. … The reports are the first filings since Carlson, a prosecutor and General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus, and Spano posted their financial reports for the third quarter. … CD 15 had been considered a “safe Republican” district by most political handicappers, but in recent weeks it has shifted into “toss-up” territory, with FiveThirtyEight giving Carlson 3-in-7 odds of successfully completing the flip.

‘Scandal is Donna Shalala’s story,’ GOP group saysvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is going after Shalala, attempting to label her as a scandal-ridden candidate. The new ad, titled “Shalala’s Story,” attempts to hit Shalala over several episodes which occurred under her leadership at various organizations. “Scandal is Donna Shalala’s story, and it’s what you expect when she’s in charge,” the ad’s narrator begins. Mike Hernandez, a Shalala spokesperson, dismissed the ad’s claims in a statement for Florida Politics. “The NRCC is using typical (Donald) Trump tactics of digging through discredited information and placing it in an ad,” Hernandez wrote. “It’s money down the drain.”


Florida Retailers recommend bundle of new state lawmakers” via Florida Politics — The Florida Retail Federation PAC, the political arm of the state’s retail trade organization, endorsed more than two dozen candidates seeking to earn their first terms in the state House next month. … “The diversity of these candidates includes some with a direct connection to retail, small business owners, and those new to holding public office, but all are focused on making Florida the most business-friendly state in the nation,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. … The bulk of the 26 candidates getting FRF’s seal of approval are seeking open seats in the state House, but a handful of the recommendations went to would-be state Reps. looking to oust incumbents. … Challengers getting the nod: DeLand Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff in HD 26, Orlando Republican Ben Griffin in HD 49, former Rep. Ray Pilon in HD 72, Miami Republican Rosy Palomino in HD 105 and Miami Republican Anthony Rodriguez in HD 118.

In final ad, Tracye Polson confronts Jacksonville political machine” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The most competitive race in Northeast Florida — the battle in plurality-Democrat House District 15 — continues to be an air war. “When your opponent is a professional lobbyist, special interests can’t wait to falsely attack you,” Polson says in the broadcast spot. Polson, who’s felt compelled to respond to ads from Republican Wyman Duggan and the Republican Party of Florida linking her with flag-burning Resistance drum circle types and socialized health care, reminded voters of her actual biography as a “health professional, not a politician.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Republicans hammer down on Jennifer Webb attack ads” via Janelle Irwin Taylor — The Republican Party of Florida sent out two attack mailers against Webb tying her to special interests that support policies conservatives oppose. The mailers landed in House District 69 voters’ mailboxes this week. “Big business special interests often use government to bully the little guy and Jennifer Webb is a friend of the special interest,” one ad reads. That ad claims Webb’s special interest donors would stop pay increases for teachers, enrich health care corporations at the expense of patients and consumers and raise taxes that would hurt small businesses. The ad offers several citations for its claims. The ad references a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Florida teachers’ union alleging the state’s teacher merit pay law violated employee’s rights to collective bargaining.


Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” is touring the country’s swing states ahead of the Nov. 6 election. 

One of his most obvious stops: Florida.

“It’s America’s swing state for a reason,” Todd said, noting that the electorate is a microcosm of the country’s. 

Red tide: “I go to a gun store, and the first issue I talk to somebody about is about red tide. … In Florida, environmental issues are bigger than red versus blue.” 

Energy: “This seems to be a more engaged electorate than I remember in elections past,” Todd said. The stereotype that Florida voters are apathetic might not apply this year, he added. 

Side note: While in Tampa, Todd also secured an interview with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum for a reaction just hours after news of the subpoenaed records broke. That’s here. 


Breaking overnight –Tampa man accused of mowing down 3 linemen in Panhandle, killing 2” via Jana Jones of WFLA – Three linemen who were working to restore power in the Panhandle after Hurricane Michael were mowed down last night by a hit-and-run driver from Tampa, deputies say. Two of the linemen died from their injuries. Deputies say 37 year-old John Goedtke hit the three linemen on State Road 77 in Washington County. The crash happened just before 7 p.m. Two linemen died and a third was airlifted to a local hospital in critical condition. Deputies say Goedtke ran away from the crash scene, but was spotted by a Chipley police officer and taken into custody.

Gulf Power beats own deadline for turning lights back” on via Florida Politics — The company had returned electric power to 95 percent of its customers in the Hurricane Michael disaster zone by about 30 hours. That required rebuilding “a significant portion” of its grid in Bay County, where the company serves 103,000 customers, including more than 6,800 distribution poles. Following the storm, Gulf Power set a midnight Wednesday deadline. Gulf Power is responsible for getting power into customers’ meter box. Any other equipment at homes or businesses is the customers’ responsibility, and they’ll need to hire licensed electricians to undertake that work. (Details here.) Between 15,000 and 20,000 customers are in that position.

’I cried like a real baby’: Small towns like Two Egg shocked by Michael’s ferocity” via Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat — With the randomness and capriciousness of nature, damage was scattered in this small Jackson County town of a couple hundred people. As the storm’s fury made its way up to North Florida’s coastline and beyond, a long brick house made it through unscathed. The sharp contrast can be seen throughout the small towns and unincorporated communities in the Big Bend, Panhandle and even Georgia, which were impacted by the storm’s far-reaching winds after it wiped out Mexico Beach. Many of tiny Two Egg’s residents are farmers and workers at nearby Chattahoochee disability service center, Sunland. The genesis of the unincorporated community’s name is uncertain, but legend has it that during the Great Depression, residents traded eggs for store items, historian Dale Cox told VISIT FLORIDA.

Small Florida towns like Two Egg were caught off guard by the ferocity of Hurricane Michael. (Image via the Tallahassee Democrat)

The poor find no place to go in devastated Panama City” via Eileen Kelley of the Florida Times-Union — There is a crisis in Panama City. Poor people are sorting through what is salvageable and what they can bring with them when they attempt to start their lives over. Where and when they start over is anyone’s guess. Affordable housing is hard to find in just about every city in America. Panama City and its surrounding communities are no exception. Hurricane Michael barreled through and made it worse, much worse. The storm’s fierce winds left the area’s poor and disenfranchised in even worse shape than before the Oct. 10 storm. Residents at numerous public and subsidized housing complexes across the city have been told to leave their uninhabitable units — some which people spent years on waiting lists trying to nail down.

Michael insurance claims near 100,000” via the News Service of Florida — … with an estimated $1.25 billion in insured losses, according to data posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website. As of Tuesday afternoon, 97,909 claims had been filed. Most of the reported claims, 71,913, involved residential property, with 64,921 of those claims remaining open as of Tuesday. The number of claims has climbed during the past week as recovery efforts continue. As of last Wednesday, for example, 69,950 claims had been filed, with estimated insured losses of $680.7 million.

FSU, FAMU, TCC launch relief efforts to aid Michael victims” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University estimates as many as 15,000 of its students may have been directly impacted by the storm. That number is based on student addresses from affected ZIP codes, university spokesman Dennis Schnittker said. He added the figure includes students who have provided the university with only an off-campus Leon County address. Excluding all Leon County addresses, off and on campus, the figure is more likely 2,500, he said. But that doesn’t discount students whose family members may have lost a home or vehicle or the means to earn a living, for example. “All our students, as well as our faculty, staff and graduate students, who are from the hard-hit areas, potentially have needs ranging from housing to transportation and groceries to basic toiletries,” Sally McRorie, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said. “As we work to help meet the immediate needs of all our FSU family, we are hoping for support from everyone who can contribute.”

José Andrés comes to Florida to feed Michael victims” via Tim Carman of The Washington Post — The chef, restaurateur and humanitarian’s visit to Florida comes just a month after he traveled to North Carolina to help feed residents in the wake of Hurricane Florence and as he’s promoting his new book, We Fed an Island, which details the many trials that Andrés and WCK faced while preparing millions of hot meals for the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Since he arrived on Oct. 14, he has been preparing and delivering meals in Panama City and Mexico Beach … Just as important, Andrés is on the ground, hearing the stories and frustrations of those most affected. He has been using the giant megaphone of his Twitter account (682,000 followers and counting) to ping state and national officials, passing along the people’s most pressing needs.

Airman wife’s hurricane relief effort goes viral” via Jim Thompson of — The first 980 packages were a surprise for Alicia Barnett. As an Air Force spouse, she was concerned about airmen and families dealing with the near-total destruction of Tyndall Air Force Base. “If that had happened to my family, I would have wanted someone to ask what I needed,” Barnett said. So, as a “Key Spouse” at Eglin Air Force Base — an initiative that supports Air Force families — Barnett began monitoring social media and reaching out to see what Tyndall families needed. Then, using Facebook’s Key Spouse page — Barnett’s husband is Staff Sgt. Benjamin Barnett, an Eglin airfield manager — Barnett got involved with the creation of gift registries at Target and Amazon. She arranged for deliveries to her home, with plans to distribute donations to Tyndall airmen and families in the immediate area. “I was expecting a couple of people to donate,” she said. Then, Barnett got a call from the Post Office. “They said, ‘We have eight pallets for you,’” she said.

Alicia Barnett, an airman’s wife at Eglin Air Force Base, didn’t expect her call for Hurricane Michael relief supplies to go viral. (Image via Northwest Florida Daily News)

Rivals welcome team traveling from storm damage area” via Savannah Vasquez of — The girls’ volleyball district tournament almost didn’t happen for Blountstown High School, since Hurricane Michael destroyed their gym, along with most of their city. However, thanks to Freeport High School, the Lady Tigers were able to play, and find hope from their competitors. “Volleyball has been a way to return them to normalcy and give them something to not only look forward to but to help deal with what’s happened,” said Blountstown volleyball coach Leigh Ann Summers. “It’s something far bigger than ourselves. It’s for our communities too. We all need to heal and sports can help bring us all together.” Tuesday night’s game at Freeport was a picture of unity. When the Freeport girls lost, they walked across the court to hug their rivals.


Ted Deutch preaches civility in town hall with voters” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Rep. Deutch talked up the importance of communication and civility Tuesday, while fielding questions from voters across the political spectrum at an event organized by the Gold Coast Tiger Bay Club. The speech is part of a monthly series hosted by the group in order to expose members of the community to leaders’ ideas. Tuesday’s event was held at the City Fish Market restaurant in Boca Raton. Deutch never directly mentioned the round of bomb threats targeting lawmakers and others earlier in the day. But intentional or not, his messaging was well trained on toning down the harsh political rhetoric often seen in the country’s current discourse. “That tone isn’t helpful in our communities where we have real problems that we have to discuss with one another, where we do have difference of opinion but we’ve got to respect those differences of opinion if we’re ever going to figure out how to address the significant challenges we have,” Deutch said.

Ted Deutch meets with student leaders of @AMarch4OurLives for hosting Tuesday night’s #TownHallForOurLives. (Image via Twitter)

Parkland shooting parents stymied by fundraising efforts supporting gun control” via George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel — “None of us had a grasp of how difficult this would be,” Matt Gohd, the group’s California-based executive director, said. “We needed more resources, more people.” But it just hasn’t happened. The goal was to raise $10 million, trying to land a counterpunch to the influential lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association. The plan was to target politicians who were opposed to gun safety regulations. But the group has only raised $230,000, and a substantial amount of that came shortly after the group was first launched. The group took in less than $30,000 from July through the end of September, and now has only $13,000 left in the bank. “I would say it was idealistic of us to think that we could get something through at this point,” Gohd said.

Department of Education wants funding boost for school safety initiatives — Florida Department of Education put out its legislative budget request for the 2019-20 fiscal year and making its funding wishlist are a slate of budget increases that would amount to a $200 increase in per-pupil funding. Most of the requested raise would help pay for new requirements in the school safety package lawmakers passed earlier this year in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland. Among the boosts it’s seeking from the Legislature: $100 million for school safety, $67.5 million to provide training to armed school personnel, and $10 million for mental health programs. If granted, the budget increase would increase per-pupil funding from $7,407 per student in the current budget year to $7,607 in 2019-20.

Dennis Ross’ latest gig: develop college program in civics, civility” via Bill Rufty of Florida Politics — Ross, the Republican congressman from the 15th Congressional District, joined Southeastern University President Kent Ingle to announce the retiring congressman’s new job … part of a major center for the teaching of government and civics both for students and the general public. Upon his departure from the U.S. House in early January, Ross will join the SEU faculty in his hometown as Distinguished Professor of Political Science launching the American Center for Political Leadership. University officials and Ross said the institution would be a “nonpartisan center dedicated to research, academic programs, courses, workshops and resources that will prepare the next generation of political leaders and passionate citizens who aim to promote traditional American values and individual freedoms.”

Court says minor doesn’t have to turn over iPhone codes” via the News Service of Florida — A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal overturned a decision by a Broward County circuit judge that would have forced the minor to provide passcodes for his phone and an iTunes account. The ruling said the minor was speeding when he was involved in a crash that killed one of his passengers. A blood test at the hospital showed the minor had a .086 blood alcohol level, and another passenger said they had been drinking vodka earlier in the day. Police obtained a warrant to search the driver’s iPhone because the surviving passenger said she had communicated with him through texts and Snapchat. Attorneys for the minor, however, argued that being forced to turn over passcodes would violate his Fifth Amendment right against being required to testify against himself. A trial judge, however, rejected those arguments, in part finding that the passwords were not “testimonial in and of themselves.” But the appeals court overruled the circuit judge.

Red tide claiming Pinellas County jobs, costing businesses” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County beach businesses reported 50 temporary layoffs and nine permanent layoffs associated with loss of business due to red tide. Forty-nine businesses self-reported losses totaling more than $1.5 million. Businesses reported losses through the Florida Damage Assessment program providing relief to businesses affected. Red tide continues to plague almost all of Pinellas County’s Gulf beaches, with conditions improving or worsening based on wind and weather patterns. Businesses affected have several other relief options including interest-free loans through the Florida Emergency Bridge Loan assistance program. Applications for loans up to $50,000 will be taken until Dec. 3. Businesses with two to 100 employees are eligible. Businesses have 180 days to repay the loans.

Assignment editors — Leading medical cannabis provider Surterra Wellness hold an open house to its newest St. Petersburg Wellness Center, the company’s 13th in the state, 10 a.m., 2001 4th St. N., St. Petersburg.


Gillum should speak candidly, release records” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — records raise doubts about Gillum’s previous answers regarding the Hamilton ticket. He consistently said the ticket came from his brother. But the records show Gillum received this text in August 2016 in New York from Corey, which refers to the FBI undercover agent: “Mike Miller and the crew have tickets for us for Hamilton tonight at 8 p.m.’’ Gillum’s reply text: “Awesome news about Hamilton.’’ Voters often forgive mistakes. They are less likely to forgive deceptive explanations. And now Gillum faces the predictable accusation from his Republican opponent, DeSantis, that he lied about the Hamilton ticket. The timing here could not be worse for voters. The election is underway, and they have to choose between Gillum and DeSantis without having a complete picture of what really went on in Tallahassee. Gillum should help by waiving confidentiality on the ethics complaints against him so that all records can be released. If he has nothing to hide as he has claimed for months, that should be an easy call.

Taking stock after Hurricane Michael” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — In some ways, it’s way too early to hang a “mission accomplished” banner in the wake of Hurricane Michael. But we’ve seen a large enough sample size from Leon and surrounding counties, as well as from state government, to say with confidence that this natural disaster didn’t also turn into a political and public relations disaster. The first hurdle cleared was that there was no fussing between state and local governments. A few other observations: This storm has retaught us all is the “regional-ness” of our communities. Insular attitudes have melted away as the horrific pictures from nearby counties have made it back to those less tragically affected. For folks to the west and southwest of Tallahassee, this will be a months, perhaps even yearslong slog. Oh, and we learned one more thing from Hermine to Michael — that’s enough hurricanes for a long, long while!

Martin Horn: Amendment 4 is good criminal justice policy” via Florida Politics — I believe strongly in the rule of law, having served in corrections for more than 40 years, as Executive Director of the New York State Paroling Authority, as Commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and of Probation, and as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections. The rule of law means there must be consequences for our actions, and in our justice system, incarceration plays a role in carrying out those consequences. But what happens after incarceration? Should the consequences of a person’s mistakes follow them for life, even after they’ve served their sentence and paid their debts to society? I believe the answer is no, which is why I’m urging a yes vote on Amendment 4, Florida’s voting restoration amendment. Redemption is at the core of the American experience every bit as much as ‘law and order.’


Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors announces two vacancies The Bar’s Board of Governors is seeking applicants for vacancies to be filled during its Feb. 8, 2019, meeting. Its foundation’s Board of Directors needs two lawyers to serve three-year terms, starting July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2022. The 33-member Board of Directors administers Florida’s Interest on Trust Accounts program. Directors shall be members of the foundation during their term(s) as directors. Those interested in applying should download the “Application for Special Appointment” here, or call Bar headquarters at 850-561-5667. Completed applications must be received at “Executive Director, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300” or sent via email to [email protected] no later than close of business on Friday, Dec. 7. Resumes will not be accepted in lieu of the required application.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

French Brown, Michael Dobson, Martha Edenfield, Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Lee County Board of County Commissioners

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: The Melo Group

Kenneth Granger, Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: Osceola County

Meghan Hoza, The P5 Group: Shark Allies

Robert Lange, Christopher Turner: Florida Commission on Human Relations

— ALOE —

What Michelle Todd is reading — “Hallmark Channel to celebrate holidays with branded SiriusXM channel” via R. Thomas Umstead of — The 24/7 holiday music channel launches Nov. 1. The Hallmark Channel Radio channel is part of the network’s “Countdown to Christmas” campaign featuring the network’s lineup of holiday-themed movies. SiriusXM’s Hallmark Channel Radio will feature Christmas carols and music introduced by top network talent including LeAnn RimesHolly Robinson PeeteLacey HabertDanica McKellar, and Kellie Pickler.

Disney World’s big secret: It’s a favorite spot to scatter family ashes” via Erich Schwartzel of The Wall Street Journal — No code is kept more under wraps at Walt Disney World and Disneyland than the call for a “HEPA cleanup.” It means that, once again, a park guest has scattered the cremated ashes of a loved one somewhere in the park, and an ultrafine (or “HEPA”) vacuum cleaner is needed to suck them up. Disney custodians say it happens about once a month. Current and former custodians at Disney parks say identifying and vacuuming up human ashes is a signature and secret part of working at the Happiest Place on Earth. It is grisly work for them, but a cathartic release for the bereaved, who say treating Disney parks as a final resting place is the ultimate tribute to ardent fans.

One of the best-kept secrets of Disney World: Identifying and vacuuming up human ashes left by the bereaved families of ardent fans. (Image via the Wall Street Journal)

Hard Rock International named land-based gambling ‘Operator of the Year’ — Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment, which owns the Hard Rock International brand, said it “solidified its place as one of the world’s leading casino operators (by) winning Land-Based Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards 2018” in Las Vegas. The news came Wednesday; the awards were presented Oct. 8. “On behalf of our 40,000 employees around the world, we are truly honored to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Jim Allen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hard Rock International. “It validates our commitment to outstanding service and acknowledges our growth strategy in the industry.” The Global Gaming Awards are organized by Gambling Insider and G2E.

#MeToo notes from elsewhere: “Indiana Attorney General won’t be charged in alleged groping” via The Associated Press — A special prosecutor said he will not charge Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill with a crime even though he believes allegations from four women that Hill drunkenly groped them at a party in March. Attorneys for the lawmaker and legislative staffers who accuse Hill said the case isn’t over because they plan to file a civil lawsuit against him. Special prosecutor Daniel Sigler said he considered bringing misdemeanor battery charges against Hill, a Republican. But he said witnesses gave varying accounts of what happened in the crowded Indianapolis bar … “The setting of this lent itself to problems prosecuting,” Sigler said. “It was in a bar. It was in the early morning hours. Free alcohol was being served and flowing.”

VISIT Florida: Experience Stephen King’s “Duma Key” novel in real life — The state’s tourism marketing agency never misses an opportunity for a tie-in (even if the novel is nearly 11 years old). Here’s an excerpt from a recent email: “Duma Key is not real; King, a part-time Sarasota County resident who has owned a house in the region for the past several years, fictionalized the island to suit the story’s purposes. But many of the colorful, tropical sites and settings he mentions in the book are actual shops, restaurants and galleries located in Sarasota and on the nearby keys. And for Duma Key fans who have recently devoured the book, there’s nothing more thrilling than spending a day tracking down some of these sites and checking them out for yourself.” Everybody get a plug! Win-win!

Happy birthday to Eric Conrad and Chuck Urban.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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