Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.1.18
Colorful beach chairs on caribbean coast

Colorful beach chairs

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

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

Halloween is in the books, and while many of us are coming down from a sugar high, Florida pols still have their hands out for more.

The fundraising cutoff for the 2018 election ends tonight at midnight and, hopefully, a reprieve from the flood of fundraising emails will come with it — but not before one final blitz. The closing hours for collections features some pleas that range from dignified to desperate and reassuring to fear mongering.

Ron DeSantis is still putting the Trump brand to work, telling supporters that he needs another $715K before he faces POTUS. If he doesn’t scrounge that skrill, the former Congressman says he won’t be able to promise Trump he’ll emerge victorious Tuesday.

Andrew Gillum’s Wednesday morning ask told Democrats it was time to put up or shut up and put his platform next to DeSantis’ and asking his backers whether they wanted him or DeSantis to win. If the former, its time to ante up so he can “bring it home.”

Trump’s presence in the Sunshine State was the nut graph for most solicitations, but a couple more Presidents were asking for a fistful of dollars: Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter.

The 94-year-old Georgian said for $26, donors could ensure Dems take back the U.S. House, but the promise of a quadruple match may be masking a bit of desperation. For the real bargain hunters out there, the DLCC is offering a better multiplier.

On the other side of the aisle, Matt Gaetz’ pre-deadline email was a greatest hits list of conservative consternation. If Gaetz — a lock for re-election — is going to rebuff Democratic plans to “destroy the Senate, pack the Supreme Court with liberal justices, shatter the electoral college, and impeach our president” he needs $20 from you. Pronto.

In case you missed it: “Why I believe Andrew Gillum is about to bring it home” by Peter Schorsch (I also thought Charlie Crist would win in 2014, so take this column with a grain of salt)

Breaking overnight: “Rick Scott PAC spends $10M on last-minute media blitz” via Florida Politics — New filings with the Federal Elections Commission show New Republican PAC, the political committee backing Scott’s Senate bid, has pumped nearly $10 million into media buys since the end of last week. …  24-hour finance disclosures show Scott’s committee put down more than $900,000 for a media placement opposing his Democratic rival, incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, on Friday. Filings uploaded Wednesday show the committee followed that up with another slate of media buys totaling $8.78 million this week. … At the end of the pre-general election reporting period, New Republican PAC had raised more than $19.75 million and had spent more than $18.5 million of that cash. The most recent of the committee’s 24-hour reports show it has now spent $29.5 million during the 2018 election cycle.

Correction for an item in Wednesday’s Sunburn: “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed in Wakulla Springs, near Tallahassee, not Silver Springs. Thank you to the many, many, many people from Wakulla Springs who pointed this out to me. 


@RealDonaldTrump: Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!

—@TheDaraKam: A guy wearing a “CNN Fake News” T-shirt outnumbered by fans of ⁦@Acosta⁩ who line up for selfies while awaiting ⁦@realDonaldTrump

@MarcoRubio: Our politics is an angry fight over how bad things are here in America. Ironically one of the things we fight about the most is the fact that because life in America is so good, we have too many people risking their lives & breaking our laws to come here & have children born here.

@EricBoehlert: Trump supporter entering rally in Florida just told MSNBC she voted w/ paper ballot this year because George Soros controls all the voting machines, so she doesn’t trust them. have a nice Wednesday

@KKfla737: Worth noting thus far based on VBM/Early voting the four worst turnout counties in the state have been #HuirricaneMichael affected, solidly Republican ones in the western Panhandle. Perhaps not enough conversation anymore about how the storm has impacted turnout?

@Fineout: trying to figure out what it means when a statewide campaign tries so hard to use a Harry Potter pun in a campaign fundraising email … yeah, know it’s Halloween, but … patronus?

—@Scott_Maxwell: I’m voting against casino amendment 3. Yet even I can tell you the ads that anti-3 forces are running are some of the most ridiculous ones on the air this year. This amendment has nothing to do with schools.

—@SenatorGainer: Special thanks to Senator @darrylrouson for joining me today in #BayCounty for CARE (Chemical Addictions and Recovery Efforts) w/Wanda Campbell, CEO, and her team. Despite damage/loss of their own homes, they are still at work providing services and holding up local families

@ShevrinJones: Some say they don’t celebrate Halloween, but yet wear an ugly mask of gossip, hate, lovelessness, and other things every day. Take the mask off and treat people right!

—@CaitOConner: There are two kinds of people on Nextdoor: the people posting that they have Jell-O shots for adult trick-or-treaters and the people posting addresses to avoid.

@KayneWest: My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative !!!


Halloween saw 340,000-plus ballots marked received by county supervisors of election, bringing the total vote up to 3.41 million. Republicans again led in the daily tally, though only by a hair.

The GOP’s 137,279-ballot haul came in just 855 ahead of the 136,424 new votes pouring in from registered Democrats. Third- and no-party voters accounted for the other 67K pre-Election Day votes reported to the Florida Division of Elections on Wednesday.

The Republican share of the vote did tick down by a couple tenths of a percent, though the major parties remain essentially deadlocked at 42-40 percent, advantage GOP.

Of the 3.46 million mail ballots deployed, nearly 56 percent have completed the return trip. Republicans buoy that measure, now 61 percent of the way through their stack. By comparison, 54 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents have come through.

Of the 1.53 million still in the wild, 522K is in the hands of GOP voters, 637K went to registered Democrats, and 372K were sent to independents.

In 2014, 73 percent of requested mail ballots were returned, and Republicans managed to build up an advantage of 128K votes in the final VBM tally. That lead has halved to 65K this cycle. Likewise, the Democrats’ 2,500-vote lead in EV is significantly less than the 37K advantage they held at the end of the 2014 cycle.

The last day of early voting is Saturday.

Early voting shows record numbers in election for Governor, Senator” via Melanie Paine of the Fort Myers News-Press — 3 million ballots already cast, beating the 2014 midterm numbers as voting continues into the weekend. Registered Republicans have a slight edge over Democrats in early voting, but more Democrats are voting early than did in the last midterm. Right now the Republicans are ahead when it comes to early voting by more than 50,000 more ballots cast than Democrats, Florida Department of Elections data show. But more than a half-million voters with no party affiliation have also voted, and polling suggests those voters are leaning Democratic. Here’s another factor: Most of the 1.6 million outstanding absentee ballots requested were sent to Democrats or voters registered without a party affiliation, which could be a good sign for Democratic candidates.

— “The Gillum effect? In Florida’s largest black-majority city, a surge of early voters” via Doug Hanks of The Miami Herald


Fort Myers Trump rally: Base psyched like it’s 2016” via Christene Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — Amid a sea of red hats, a roaring crowd and a few dozen somber journalists in a holding pen, President Trump strolled slowly on stage in Fort Myers on Wednesday night and did what Donald Trump does best: Whip up a his base with a punch list of accomplishments, insults for the media as well as promises to build a border wall, stop a reported immigrant caravan and lower taxes. And his base cheered every one of the pledges. … Like shoppers waiting for a Black Friday deal, Trump’s most devout followers slept in front of the Hertz Arena in Estero on Tuesday night. Others came at dawn and waited in 80-plus degree temperatures without complaint until the doors opened at 4 p.m.

“‘Lock him up!’: Florida Trump crowd bashes opponents of Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – The Scott-DeSantis rally with Trump in Fort Myers — the capital of one of the most politically engaged Republican counties in the state — highlighted the partisan nature of Florida’s 2018 midterm election, in which both sides are ginning up their base voters with the two most popular figures in each party: Trump and former President Barack Obama, who visits Democrat-rich Miami on Friday. … The campaign event in the packed arena six days before Election Day showcased the classic hits of a Trump rally revival, replete with impromptu crowd chants of “USA!” and “CNN sucks!” and a new variant on an old theme: “Lock him up!” — a reference to the federal investigation swirling around … Gillum. … Trump praised Scott’s post-storm crisis management, which gave him a national platform but which unexpectedly failed to boost his poll numbers. “He takes a problem. He turns it into an asset,” Trump said. “He’s a talent.”

Ron DeSantis greets Donald Trump on his Halloween trip to Florida.

Joe Henderson: Trump hit talking points and Dems better listen” via Florida Politics – I’ll tell you what I saw in this rally. I saw motivated people who believe in this President. I saw enthusiastic support for DeSantis and Scott. It’s accurate to say  Gillum’s crowds have been wildly enthusiastic too. I know what the polls say. Gillum and Nelson appear to have the momentum with time running out. The polls were wrong before. Democrats, beware. This race isn’t over until the last ballot is counted. To believe otherwise is to invite déjà vu on Nov. 7, and Donald Trump can tell you all about that.

Florida Democrats on GOP: Voters shouldn’t be ‘tricked’via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ahead of President Donald Trump‘s Halloween visit to Florida, Florida Democrats warned voters not to get “tricked” regarding the GOP’s record before next week’s midterm election. Democratic U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Ted Deutch and Val Demings spoke to reporters Wednesday, highlighting what they see as flaws in Republicans’ agenda during the 115th Congress. “President Trump and Republicans are selling out the American people at every turn,” Castor said. “Donald Trump’s coming to Florida on Halloween. And we want to make sure that Florida voters aren’t tricked.”

Donald Trump’s rally in Estero raises the rancor of Florida Democrats.


Depending on the pollster, the race between DeSantis and Gillum will either come down to the wire or Gillum will cruise on Election Day.

Pick your poison: A poll out of USA Today/Suffolk University showing Gillum up 45-44 percent or the Ipsos/Reuters/The University of Virginia Center for Politics poll pegging the race at 50-44 percent, advantage Gillum.

Both Wednesday polls agree on a few key things: DeSantis’ has 44-percent support, Gillum holds a double-digit lead among women, and third- and no-party voters are leaning toward the Tallahassee Mayor over the former Congressman.

The Andrew Gillum/Ron DeSantis race could come down to the wire, or could be a blowout.

But the polls couldn’t be further apart when it comes to their sample. Republicans outnumbered Democrats 48-43 percent the Ipsos poll — the one showing Gillum up 6 points. Conversely, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 37-36 percent in the USA Today poll. That gulf between expected GOP and Dems turnout about right, but their share of the whole is a ways off.

For reference, the split between the major parties was about 2 points in the last midterm election, with Republicans on top. Many experts expect that gap will close to about a point when all the votes are tallied.

Which outfit has it right — or whether they’re both wrong — will be revealed in less than a week.

—”Here’s a poll that shows Ron DeSantis leading race for Florida governor” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Telemundo poll: Hispanics favoring Gillum, Bill Nelson” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republicans still have a solid block of support from Florida’s Cuban-American community but Puerto Ricans and other Hispanic voters are breaking strongly toward Gillum and Nelson, giving the Democrats sizable leads overall among Hispanic voters. Overall, Gillum has a 51 percent to 40 percent advantage versus DeSantis among Hispanic voters in Florida’s governor’s race; and Nelson has a 54 to 39 advantage among Hispanic voters over Scott in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, according to the new poll done by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for the Spanish-language TV network of Telemundo’s Florida stations. The poll found majorities — in some cases, huge majorities — of Hispanic voters favor a number of policy positions supported by many or all Democrats and generally opposed by Republicans, notably for national health care, various immigration reforms.

Will DeSantis’ or Gillum’s health care plan cover more people? Experts weigh in.” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Policy experts who took a closer look at DeSantis’ health care plan said it lacks a clear way to lower costs and would leave more people uninsured than Gillum’s proposal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. DeSantis’ plan emphasizes that a patient should know how much their health care really costs, vowing to enforce a 2016 law that proposed a state website for patients to view health care costs at different facilities. The plan also suggests encouraging insurance companies to share their savings with customers by making “cash payments” to them — an idea one expert found unsatisfactory to reduce cost. Gillum has instead shifted to a more moderate approach: expanding Medicaid in Florida, an option allowed under the Affordable Care Act that would steer billions of federal dollars to cover an estimated 700,000 Floridians. Experts said the Medicaid expansion would result in a greater reduction of the uninsured rate in Florida, compared to DeSantis’ plan.

RGA, DGA double down in final week of Governor’s race” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Republican Governors Association this week gave another $1 million to DeSantis’ political committee, bringing its election cycle total to $3 million. The group also poured another $300,000 into cable TV ads in the Democrat-heavy Palm Beach media market and aimed $1 million toward a digital ad campaign focused on swing voters. It’s the biggest infusion of cash the RGA is doing in any state over the final two weeks of the 2018 midterms. On the other side, Gillum got another $500,000 infusion of cash Wednesday from the Democratic Governors Association, which has put $8.5 million into the race and is Gillum’s biggest direct donor. That’s on top of $1 million it is has given to the Florida Democratic Party to boost its research and minority voter turnout efforts. Both sides are in final messaging mode of what has been an intensely negative general election.

Gillum committee pulls in $2 million” via the News Service of Florida — The Forward Florida committee reported $2.02 million in contributions dated Tuesday and had about $4.68 million in cash on hand heading into next week’s election. The latest influx of money included $250,000 from the statewide law firm Morgan & Morgan; $250,000 from the Pensacola-based firm Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty Proctor; $200,000 from Jacksonville trial attorney Steve Pajcic, who was the 1986 Democratic nominee for governor; $200,000 from Sallyn Pajcic, the widow of Steve Pajcic’s late brother and law partner, Gary; and $100,000 from the Tampa-based firm Swope, Rodante P.A.

’I’ll be different’: Destiny is on the line for Gillum in Florida governor bid” via Nada Hassanein and Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — What lit the spark? Maybe it was that moment two decades ago, on a paddle boat ride on the St. Johns River, when Gainesville High Student Activities Director Linda Awbrey predicted Gillum would be governor one day. “I would really like to do that,” was Gillum’s response. Twenty years later Awbrey stood at a podium in Kleman Plaza to help kick off Gillum’s campaign for governor. “I’ve had the privilege of teaching many special students … but none were as gifted as Andrew in the leadership field,” Awbrey told an enthusiastic crowd of 300 people that day. “Young Andrew was different.” That drive coupled with a desire to help others, an idealistic nature wedded to a strong sense of responsibility, are hallmarks of Gillum’s message as the charismatic mayor of Tallahassee crisscrosses the state in the waning days of the 2018 election.

New Gillum ad highlights Florida’s diversity, inclusivity and unity — The minute-long digital ad talks of Florida’s greatest strengths — diversity and unity. Narrated by Gillum, “Diversity” calls on Floridians to come together and stand against divisive rhetoric meant to divide the state: “So let’s stand together against politicians that use race to divide us. So let’s stand together against rhetoric that pits us versus them. So let’s bet on each other instead of against each other.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

—“Gillum stumps in Panhandle, pushes back at President Trump’s jibes” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Jimmy Buffett to hold concert Saturday for Gillum, Nelson” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The event, free of charge, is open to the public. Buffett’s “small acoustic set” will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. With less than a week away from the election, Buffett is making clear that he’s now firmly behind the Democratic Party and their candidates. “If you haven’t noticed yet, there is an election next Tuesday, and I am glad to support Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor, and my longtime friend Sen. Bill Nelson for re-election,” Buffett said.

America’s largest Jewish weekly endorses DeSantis — The Jewish Press, America’s largest Jewish weekly publication, is endorsing DeSantis for Governor, citing his support for the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and his strong support of Israel. The endorsement also chastised Gillum, stating his support for the BDS movement and the Iran Nuclear Deal, both of which threaten the security and sovereignty of Israel and highlight his consistent disregard for the well-being of the Israeli people and Florida’s Jewish community. In their endorsement, the paper wrote: “We urge our Florida readers to come out on November 6 and vote for Republican and Trump supporter Ron DeSantis for governor. Throughout his career, DeSantis has been a vocal supporter of Israel. He has supported the relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has strongly opposed the BDS movement and, if elected, would seek to promote trade between Florida and Israel.”

Police chiefs back DeSantisvia Florida Politics — If Republican DeSantis doesn’t win the election for Governor next week, it won’t be for lack of police support. Halloween Wednesday brought the latest love from LEOs, courtesy of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. In marked contrast to previous law enforcement endorsements that condemned Democrat Gillum, the police chiefs eschewed excoriation of the Tallahassee Mayor. “Florida Police Chiefs want a Governor who supports law enforcement, the principles of the association and will protect our communities. The FPCA proudly supports Congressman Ron DeSantis for Governor. As a former prosecutor, he understands the sacrifice our law enforcement officers make when they put on their uniforms every day.”

Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Jeanette Nuñez will attend a meet-and-greet with Congressman Carlos Curbelo and state Rep. Holly Raschein, 5 p.m., Key Largo Fisheries, 1313 Ocean Bay Drive, Key Largo.

Assignment editors — The Gillum for Governor bus tour continues: 8:30 a.m., Salute! On the Beach, 100 Atlantic Blvd., Key West; 10:30 a.m., Gillum joins state Rep. Kionne McGhee, Florida City Vice Mayor Sharon Butler, congressional candidate Debbie Murcasel-Powell, Miami-Dade College, Homestead Campus, Café Patio (in front of Building D), 500 College Terrace, Cafe Patio, Homestead; 12 p.m., Gillum joins McGhee, local elected officials and candidates, Chicks N’ Wings, 10918 SW 184th Street, Miami; 1:30 p.m., Gillum and McGhee joins state Sen. Annette Taddeo, Apostle Carlos L. Malone, Sr., elected officials and candidates, volunteers, Bethel Church, 14440 Lincoln Boulevard, Miami; 2:30 p.m., Gillum and Taddeo, Kendall Branch Library, 9101 SW 97th Ave., Miami; 4 p.m., Gillum joins North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph, North Miami Councilman, County Commissioner Jean Monestime, North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd Street, North Miami; 5 p.m., Gillum and state Sen. Oscar Branyon join Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Miami Gardens Councilmember Lisa Davis, North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd Street, North Miami; 7:30 p.m., Gillum joins School Board Member Dr. Steve Gallon, Traz Powell Stadium, Miami-Dade College North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Avenue, Miami.


A Rick Scott story part II — how political giving and getting is done” via Dan Christensen of Florida — Since shortly after Scott was sworn in as governor in 2011, he and the Republican Party of Florida have raked in nearly $1.2 million in contributions from companies owned or controlled by Dr. Daniel Dosoretz, the ambitious founder and former chief executive of giant 21st Century Oncology. State election records show that many of those contributions appear to have been timed to influence the award of a billion-dollar state Medicaid contract by the Scott administration’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in 2014. If so, they worked. Over the next year — from March 2014 until March 2015 — 21st Century and other Dosoretz companies gave the Republican Party of Florida another $430,000. The company also gave Let’s Get to Work another $30,000.

Why some Florida voters associate Scott with toxic algae” via Dino Grandoni of The Washington Post — Scott’s campaign contends his critics are unfairly sliming him with the algae outbreaks. His spokeswoman notes the algae is “naturally occurring.” That’s true, but scientists say pollution flowing into state waters can feed algae growth. When Scott entered office on a wave of tea party populism in 2011, the South Florida Water Management District was on the verge of closing a deal to purchase more than 150 acres of land owned by sugar-cane farms that sent nutrient pollution into Lake Okeechobee. The transaction stood to reduce pollution that’s choking the lake significantly. Scott helped nix it, calling the agreement a boondoggle. For that reason, some voters have associated the outbreaks of algae with the state’s governor rather than its senior Senator.

New Senate Majority ad paints Scott, Trump as ‘political twins’ — “Same” highlights how much Scott has in common with Trump, with each giving tax cuts to the rich. “Rick Scott and Donald Trump are a dangerous, ethically-challenged pair that together will give tax breaks to the rich while threatening Floridians’ Social Security, Medicare and health care,” said Hannah Hurley, spokesperson for SMP. “Floridians need a leader that will always fight for them; putting their needs before the desires of a political party or party bosses. Rick Scott will never be that leader. With Rick Scott in Washington, he would be another vote for Trump 100% of the time and Floridians deserve better than that.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott digital ad calls Floridians to ‘come together’ — “Coming Together” highlights Scott’s experience “seeing people come together to help those in need following Hurricane Michael,” and the Governor’s commitment to that attitude to Washington. “Bill Nelson has chosen to end this campaign by inciting fear,” Scott said in a campaign statement. “Senator Nelson said that our country was becoming so divided that we were becoming like Rwanda — when genocide happened. Nelson seems to see us slipping into that kind of disaster … but that’s not what Florida is about.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott departure will force state plane decision” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Florida leaders will soon have to determine how exactly the new governor and Cabinet members will be able to travel the state after Gov. Scott, who use a private jet, leaves office. But so far, the campaigns of DeSantis and Gillum have not outlined how the winner of would travel when no longer driving and flying on the dollars of political contributors. “All of that is premature,” Stephen Lawson, a DeSantis spokesman, said in an email. “The only thing we’re focused on is working hard toward a big win on Nov. 6.” But former Gov. Bob Martinez said plans such as transportation are among the issues the next governor, whoever it may be, needs to have someone working on now.


The Red Tide Rick nickname is branded on the Governor, as some Floridians have tried to place on him squarely the blame for environmental concerns like toxic algae outbreaks.

But other issues, reports Jim Turner in the News Service of Florida, may have distracted enough negative attention away from the term-limited Governor as he seeks to ascend the U.S. Senate.

And maybe not.

Distractions: Scott traveled the state ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall. Afterward, he left the campaign trail to focus on cleanup efforts. That could’ve weakened the intensity of the red-tide-fueled ire held for Scott beforehand, according to Kathryn DePalo, who teaches in Florida International University’s Department of Politics.

Green is blue: “University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett said people who put water quality and the environment as the top issues likely would vote for Bill Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum,” according to Turner. “But the numbers may not be enough for any true wave.”

One more thing: “Some of the areas hit hard by water problems, such as Martin County and Lee County, are usually Republican strongholds,” writes Turner. To Juan Penalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, that could be a good thing. Reports Turner, “Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente drew 11.4 percent of the vote against Scott in the GOP Senate primary and 25 percent in Martin County, where the water issues have long been a major topic.”


Sean Shaw calls on Ashley Moody to answer for Trumpvia Florida Politics Shaw, according to polling, is down in the Attorney General race to Republican Ashley Moody. Shaw’s campaign seems to be betting that digital spots can turn the tide, as it dropped two on Wednesday. The negative one is the most compelling: The minute-long ad shows Moody, a former judge from Hillsborough County, extolling President Trump at a “Trump Club” meeting for standing up against the “fake news attacks … brilliantly and without distraction.” Following that: a series of Trump’s greatest hits in megamix form, including the crowd-pleasing tribute to John McCain (“I like war heroes who weren’t captured”), the club banger “President Obama … is the founder of ISIS,” and the chestnut “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Moody ad touts ‘cops giving props’ — The newest digital ad from Republican Attorney General candidate Moody features a bipartisan group of Florida Sheriffs giving props for the former federal prosecutor and county judge. “Florida’s Attorney General fights crime and enforces the law,” the ad says “Moody’s done both. Sean Shaw’s done neither.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

State Rep. Cord Byrd, Reggie Garcia talk Amendment 4 — The Tallahassee lawyer/lobbyist who specializes in clemency issues and the Jacksonville Republican recently sat with FiTV’s Brad Swanson (President & CEO of Florida Internet & Television) to discuss the proposed constitutional change that would restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.

To watch the 13-minute segment, click on the image below:

Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning cuts ad supporting Amendment 6 — Former Miami Heat player and NBA legend Mourning joined his wife, Tracy, in showing their support for Amendment 6, which would give crime victims’ rights equal to the accused or convicted without taking any rights away from those who have been accused or convicted. The Mournings join Alonzo’s former Miami Heat teammate Shane Battier in support of Amendment 6, promoted by Marcy’s Law for Florida.

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

Assignment editors — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will join area ministers to announce support of Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida. Dr. Charles Steele Jr., SCLC president, will attend. That’s at 11 a.m., Bethel Missionary Baptist Church (2nd-floor sanctuary), 224 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Tallahassee.


GOP group touts GOTV efforts ahead of electionvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is doing its best to stop any ‘blue wave’ on Election Day. CLF is one of several Republican groups aimed at protecting the GOP majority in the U.S. House. While some analysts peg Democrats as the favorites to take over the House in next week’s elections, CLF’s money and on-the-ground efforts show the group has other plans. Still, CLF spokesperson Courtney Alexander acknowledges the organization is not blind to the challenge facing Republicans on Nov. 6. “We knew that this cycle was going to be a really challenging cycle,” Alexander said. “So we made an aggressive goal at the beginning of the cycle to raise and spend over $100 million,” Alexander said. And Alexander says CLF surpassed that goal, raising and spending more than $150 million nationwide. Of that money, just over $5 million was poured into Florida.

Florida Family Action launches “Operation Panhandle Votes” — Orlando attorney John Stemberger, president of the Christian group, sent an email this week seeking volunteers and others “to drive people to the polls in hurricane-damaged areas of North Florida.” The organization aims to “conduct a herculean ground voter turnout operation.” Many in the Panhandle “are only eating one meal a day at a church or shelter feeding facility, sifting through the rubble of their destroyed home and or just living in hotels,” Stemberger said. “We want to go to them directly and offer a sandwich, a drink, a prayer and a ride to the polls.” He seeks 50-100 people for the effort, and “can take people who are willing to work a minimum of three days, so you don’t have to work the full six days from Friday, Nov. 1 to Tuesday, Nov. 6.” Food, “modest lodging, transportation and fuel reimbursement” will be provided from Tallahassee to the area of work in the hurricane-hit areas. The online application can be found here. Be warned, though: “Days will be long, and the work will be between 9-10 hours a day.”

Parkland dad who praised Republican congressman now campaigning for Democratic challenger” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Fred Guttenberg plans to campaign with Democratic congressional candidate Lauren Baer. Baer is challenging freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast in a district that includes northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties. The Baer campaign said Guttenberg would knock on doors in the district as part of the candidates Get Out The Vote effort days. “Fred is urging residents of Florida’s 18th District to vote for Lauren and flip it from red to blue,” the campaign said in an alert to the news media. Guttenberg has offered praise for Mast, the person he’ll be campaigning against and Baer hopes to oust. On Monday, Guttenberg campaigned with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum. “In addition to his support of doing more for gun safety, he will also restore decency and civility along with strength to this office,” Guttenberg wrote on Twitter.

With Honor ups investment into Brian Mast’s re-election bid — With Honor, a political committee that works to get veterans elected to Congress, spent another $156,000 on TV ads to bolster UMast’s re-election chances in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The new spending makes for $907,680 in pro-Mast expenditures in the 2018 cycle to date. The first-term Republican is running against Democrat Lauren Baer in the Treasure Coast district once held by former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Miami GOP candidate says birthright citizenship should be ‘reviewed’” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Although more than three million votes have already been cast in Florida ahead of Election Day next week — and more than 20 million people have voted early nationwide — an 11th-hour policy issue was unexpectedly sprung on voters Tuesday, as news broke of President Trump’s proposal to reform birthright citizenship. … Salazar, the Republican candidate for a hotly contested congressional seat in Miami-Dade County, gave her thoughts on the president’s proposal to change birthright citizenship with an executive order. The former broadcast journalist, running for Florida’s 27th congressional district seat, said the birthright citizenship of the 14th Amendment should be reviewed, calling it a “complicated” issue. … She added: “The first clause of the 14th Amendment needs to be reviewed, but I think the president is saying what I think my community shares, the fact that we do not want abuses,” Salazar said.


What Jose Oliva is reading: “Republicans are outspending Democrats 5 to 1 in key statehouse racesvia Vox — Even with a renewed focus on flipping crucial state legislatures and down-ballot races blue, Democrats are finding themselves outspent by Republicans yet again … Republicans are out-fundraising Democrats more than five to one in key state legislative races including the Pennsylvania and Michigan Houses. Democratic candidates are also being outspent by nearly five to one in the Florida House and Wisconsin Senate; nearly three to one in the Texas House; and by two to one in the Arizona Senate. Republicans control more than two-thirds of the state legislatures in the United States, and Democrats are desperately trying to win back some chambers.

Mike Fasano impostor sending bogus political robo-texts in state Senate race” via Mark Douglas of WFLA TV — There’s a political impostor posing as Pasco Tax Collector Fasano, stirring up voters with fake endorsements for Republican state Senate candidate Ed Hooper. “I was shocked to hear this,” Fasano said. Fasano’s shocked because he insists he was completely unaware of the robo-text messages landing on Pasco voters’ cellphones until some of them started calling him to complain about the intrusion. “I reached out to Ed [Hooper] and his team immediately and said, ‘I did not give you permission to use my name in a text message,’ plus there’s no disclaimer,” Fasano said. Fasano endorses Hooper as a fellow Republican but claims he never gave the OK for any kind of cellphone solicitations. “I don’t do that,” Fasano said. “I would never do that.”

’Werewolf’ Lindsay Cross: Republican spending priorities are scary” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Senate candidate Cross wants voters to know the current Republican-led Legislature’s spending priorities are far scarier than ghosts and goblins this Halloween. Cross took to Facebook donning a wolf mask in condemnation of conservative priorities. Cross is running against incumbent District 24 Senator Jeff Brandes, a Libertarian-leaning Republican. “It’s clear that your priorities are not their priorities,” Cross said. “During his time in office, my opponent has voted to lower taxes for oil drillers and limit the rights of people that have been unpaid.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Anthony Sabatini ‘blackface’ picture surfaces via Jacob Ogles from Florida Politics A photograph of Republican state House candidate Anthony Sabatini in blackface made its way to media inboxes around the state, the week before voters decide whether to send him to Tallahassee. The 30-year-old Howey-in-the-Hills Republican, running for House District 32, said the picture dates back to his sophomore year in high school, when he was 16 years old. He said no racial animus played a role in the costume choice. Sabatini said he dressed as one of his closest friends, Brandon Evans, running back for the football team and point guard for the basketball team. In turn, Evans dressed as Sabatini.

Anthony Sabatini dressed in high school as friend Brandon Evans.

Will Collier County approve its first penny sales tax?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Business leaders in the region hope so, and have rallied behind the One Collier effort for a penny tax to raise capital for needed assets. “We have always believed the reach and mission of the chamber goes beyond the economy and the businesses,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. “It’s also about the place we do business.” That’s why the Chamber pushed for a sales tax referendum to fund capital improvements. The measure, if passed, will raise a projected $490 million over seven years. That money will go toward building new workforce training facilities, expanding affordable housing options and increases mental health and addiction rehabilitation resources.


Economic impact of Michael is $1.5B and growing according to HAAS Center dashboard” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — Officials are still early into the process of assessing the damage and disruption caused by Hurricane Michael, but the numbers are already staggering. The University of West Florida’s Haas Center has placed the economic impact of Hurricane Michael at $1.5 billion based on data on timber industry losses in 11 Florida counties and insured storm surge losses in Bay and Gulf counties. Amy Newburn, assistant director of the Haas Center, said she couldn’t begin to speculate on what the total economic impact of the storm would be, but noted, “$1.5 billion is just dipping a toe in the water.”

Former House Speakers helping launching initiative for hurricane recovery — Former Speakers Allan Bense and Will Weatherford will launch the program in a media conference call at 2 p.m. Speakers from Volunteer Florida, the Florida Chamber, the Florida Chamber Foundation, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties, United Way of Florida, the American Red Cross, and the Florida Press Association will join. The initiative is designed to keep the continuing needs of communities in Florida’s Panhandle top of mind following Hurricane Michael. The call-in number is (888) 392-4564, and the access code is 7409409#.

St. Joe evaluates damage after Michael” via the News Service of Florida — While saying the majority of its properties “incurred minimal or no damage” in Hurricane Michael, The St. Joe Co. said in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that it is continuing to evaluate losses. The company, long a major landowner and developer in Northwest Florida, said its Bay Point Marina in Bay County and Port St. Joe Marina in Gulf County “suffered significant loss requiring long-term restoration and remain closed. The company maintains property and business interruption insurance, subject to certain deductibles, and is currently assessing claims under such policies; however, the timing and amount of insurance proceeds are uncertain and may not be sufficient to cover all losses.” Also, the company said it lost about 3 percent of its timber, primarily in eastern Bay County and Gulf County.

Who pays for out-of-state power company crews, equipment and supplies?” via Patrick McCreless of the Panama City News Herald — Gulf Power has a disaster fund to pay for the thousands of out-of-state linemen and extra equipment needed to rebuild Bay County’s electrical system after Hurricane Michael. But whether that fund can cover the whole recovery cost isn’t yet known. “None of that has been thought about yet,” Jeff Rogers, spokesman for Gulf Power, said of the total cost to restore electricity. “We’ve been focused only on restoration … but over the next couple of weeks, we’ll get more information.” Rogers said the company has a disaster fund set up with the state to pay for situations like the hurricane, which knocked out power in the county three weeks ago. Money for the fund comes from portions of customers’ electricity bills, Rogers said.

‘I will not sign this’: Mexico Beach City Council meeting tackles controversies since Michael” via Alex Thorson of — Those in Mexico Beach found some sense of normalcy after the small town was hit hard by Hurricane Michael almost three weeks ago. The city gathered Tuesday afternoon for the first public city council meeting since the storm. Tensions were running high and residents shoulder-to-shoulder and in the hallways as Mexico Beach officials began to piece a broken city back together. Mayor Al Cathey said other city officials asked him to sign a resolution limiting his authority. “I don’t know why this is in here. I will not sign this. I’m gonna do my job that I was elected to do,” Cathey said.


Scott seeks another shot at screening Supreme Court nominees via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott has asked the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider allowing him to begin screening replacements for three of its justices, arguing the court may have “misapprehended” his arguments that he holds that authority. The court issued an order Oct. 15 declaring that only the next Governor has the authority to replace Justices R. Fred Lewis, Peggy A. Quince, and Barbara Pariente, who face mandatory age-related retirement at midnight between Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, as Scott’s term ends. “The petition … filed in this case did not ask this court to determine the scope of the gubernatorial appointment power. Instead, the petition is directed entirely to the nomination process,” the governor’s motion says. “As a result, the parties’ briefs, in this case, did not address the scope of the appointment power. And the Governor had no occasion, in this case, to present legal argument on the significant and disputed constitutional question that was the subject of previous litigation between the parties.”

Court rejects attempt to backdate workers’ compensation policy” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — You can’t buy workers’ compensation insurance to cover an injury that has already happened, a state appeals court ruled. “Uninsured persons cannot experience a loss, then scramble to get insurance and fail to disclose their loss, and then have the cost of their loss borne by the new insurer,” Judge Timothy Osterhaus wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal (DCA). The case started in May 2016, when a construction vehicle ran over Sorto’s foot on a job site, resulting in a “bad” injury. His employer, subcontractor JAM Construction, called its broker to arrange a claim, not knowing that he hadn’t finalized coverage. The broker secured a policy from Normandy Insurance Co., effective at 12:01 a.m. on the morning of the accident, but didn’t disclose the injury.

Florida websites peddle far-right news but owner, and motives, remain hidden” via Tim Johnson of — Search the website of American Gun News, and you’ll find no clue of who posts the content. Same goes for Patriotic Viral News, Liberty Video News, Conservative Zone and 21 other websites, many with strong right-wing views. Together, the 25 sites get a combined average of 2 million views a day, maybe more, so they have clout, especially in election season. For a period, all were hosted by a Tampa-based data center … still under the radar are a profusion of websites, often with no hint of ownership, that traffic on the hyperpartisan sentiments rippling through the country. They dwell in an unregulated area, enjoying freedom of speech protections and liberty to divulge nothing about themselves. The lack of transparency about who runs such websites is vital given the history of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Sex for speed bumps: Ethics panel finds probable cause that Florida mayor misused his position” via Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post — Catherine Padilla wanted speed bumps in her Lantana, neighborhood. In August 2015, the town council granted her wish … this winter, Padilla told local media outlets and the Florida Commission on Ethics that David Stewart, Lantana’s mayor since 2000, had asked her to have sex with him in exchange for installing the speed bumps, and she had rejected his advances. The commission announced it had found probable cause that Stewart “misused his position to attempt to obtain a sexual benefit for himself,” and “solicited sex from a constituent based on an understanding his vote, official action, or judgment would be influenced.” Stewart told the Palm Beach Post that it would be inappropriate to comment. He vehemently denied the accusations when they became public in February, calling them “totally and completely false.”


Pushing every button’: Trump mobilizes the government in campaign’s final days” via Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post — Trump in recent days has made aggressive moves aimed at pushing policies that could boost Republicans next week — deploying thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in the most massive such operation since the Mexican Revolution, floating the idea ending birthright citizenship and warning he intends to halt the caravan of Central American migrants. The president has also moved to lower Medicare drug prices and suggested the idea of a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class, sending administration and congressional officials scrambling to assemble a new tax policy. The cumulative acts reflect the extent to which Trump has transformed parts of the federal bureaucracy into a factory of threats, directives and actions — an outgrowth of a campaign strategy which the president and his political advisers settled on as their best chance to hold the Republican congressional majorities.

Spotted: Matt Gaetz on “Trish Regan Primetime” — The Panhandle Republican sat for an interview on the Fox Business show “to discuss immigration, Don Lemon, and the sexual assault scheme against Mueller/FBI investigation.”

To watch the interview, click on the image below:


Andy Pelosi, Igor Volsky: Guns have no place at the polls” via Florida Politics — Intimidating someone with a firearm at a polling place is illegal. In 2016, we saw numerous instances of people bringing firearms to the polls and given our divisive political climate; it’s not improbable that we may experience similar acts of intimidation come November. The president’s characterization of his political opponents as “an angry left-wing mob” who “oppose law and order, fairness, freedom and justice” only heightens the threat. But in light of the focus on gun issues in Florida this election season, the intensity the issue generates among some who carry firearms, and the growing hostility in our political discussion, a group of nonpartisan organizations, including the two we lead, are launching an educational campaign called Guns Down at the Polls to ensure everyone can safely exercise their right to vote.

Nadine Smith: ‘Rainbow wave’ may decide key Florida races” via Florida Politics — At a time of renewed political attacks on LGBT Americans, the pro-equality vote — the ‘Rainbow Wave’ — may prove decisive in Florida’s midterm election. Candidates ignore this growing voting bloc at their peril. Equality Florida has invested deeply in connecting with voters for whom LGBT rights are the motivating issue. We have identified 1.3 million voters in Florida for whom a candidate’s positions on marriage equality, gay and transgender workplace protections, and LGBT youth are definitive. We represent a game-changing voting bloc in a state where fewer than 65,000 votes decided the last two races for Governor. The days of using LGBT issues as a wedge are waning.

Don’t buy lies about health care” via the Gainesville Sun editorial board — Scott is apparently counting on voters to be unaware or forget that he built his political career on opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage. Nelson voted to pass the ACA while Scott has long backed efforts to repeal it. Republicans across the country are employing a similar strategy. Faced with the popularity of the act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and coverage of people who were previously uninsured, these candidates are hiding from their records and claiming they now back such measures. Voters who want to retain the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions and hopefully expand its coverage should look at the records of Scott and DeSantis rather than their campaign rhetoric in making their decisions in this fall’s election.


Former Healthy Kids chief joins dental firm” via the News Service of Florida — MCNA Dental, a managed-care company that was recently awarded a five-year Medicaid contract, has hired former Florida Healthy Kids Corp. director Rose Naff as its vice president of operations. Naff most recently worked as director of the Division of Medical Services for the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Arkansas split Medicaid policy and operations, and Naff focused on the operations side. She left Arkansas in July. Naff is best known in Florida as the former executive director of the Florida Healthy Kids program, where she worked for 18 years. She later ran the Florida Health Choices program, which the Legislature created to try to serve as a health care marketplace. The program shut down after it ran out of money and was unable to stake out a role in Florida’s insurance market after the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Congratulations to Rose Naff, former CEO of Florida Health Choices.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Josh AubuchonMark Delegal, Holland & Knight: Heineken USA

Emily BuckleyChris Moya, Jones Walker: CEV Multimedia

Christina Brodeur, Ballard Partners: Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Inc

Edgar CastroNelson DiazAllyce Heflin, Southern Strategy Group: Association of Florida Colleges, Bradford County School District, Florida Virtual School

Larry CretulChris SpencerRobert Stuart, GrayRobinson: Hillsborough County Aviation Authority

David Custin, David R. Custin & Associates: St. Thomas University

Eric Douglas: Waymo

Eric DuPont: The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Marty FiorentinoJoseph MobleyMark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: The Ferber Company

Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: Osceola County

Stephen McDaniel, Meenan: Florida Fire Sprinkler Association

Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: Grant Thorton

Kyle Shephard: City of Orlando

Samuel VergheseJeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: ATOS IT Solutions and Services

— ALOE —

5 ideas for what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy” via Genevieve Shaw Brown of Good Morning America — Halloween candy buyback: The Halloween Candy Buy Back website is a great tool to find out where your kids can take their extra loot. Support the troops: There are a few options for donating your candy to troops overseas. One is called Soldier’s Angels. Plug in your ZIP code on their website and find a donation location near you. Switch Witch: Parents can buy the Switch Witch toy and book to gear up for the “switch” before Halloween or they can simply swap out the candy for healthier grist or treat a la the tooth fairy. Trade it in for Reese’s peanut butter cups: If you’re Reese’s lover and will be in New York City on Wednesday, you’re in luck. There’s an actual Reese’s vending machine that will allow you to trade the candy you don’t want for Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Yes, you can do something with that leftover candy (other than eating it).

Billions of pounds of pumpkin will go to the landfill after Halloween” via Perry Miller of — More than 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins will be thrown out in the U.S., adding tons of waste to landfills. When we throw those pumpkins out, they decompose and release methane — a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Is our pumpkin waste ruining the environment? It’s certainly an issue, but the U.S. Department of Energy is working on the problem by teaming up with industry experts to develop integrated biorefineries, which are facilities that can efficiently convert plant and waste material into affordable biofuels. As of right now, none of the refineries are in full operation. In the meantime, keep enjoying your pumpkins. Carve them, decorate them and — after October 31 — eat or compost them to reduce the food waste.

Happy birthday belatedly to former U.S. Rep. (and soon-to-be-dad) David Jolly. Celebrating today are Danny Martell and Holly Moore.

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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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