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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.2.18

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

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

We did it once before, can we do it once again …

There haven’t been too many days in October when Florida Politics did not sponsor and publish a new survey with our colleagues at St. Pete Polls. SPP has become such a household name — at least in the households which live and die on political news — that its numbers are now part of the aggregators at FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics.

We’d like to do one more poll of the top of the ballot, especially since we ask those who have already cast a ballot who got their vote. But, as we’ve said before, polling is expensive.

So we’d like to see if there is any appetite for crowdfunding one final survey from St. Pete Polls. To do so, we need to raise $1,200 to run a poll this weekend.

Would you consider kicking in something to pay for that poll? If so, PayPal FP at can contribute whatever you like to this tip jar … $5, $10, $25, $100. If we get enough money together, we’ll do the poll; if not, we’ll refund your money.

If you do put something in the kitty, we’ll include your name (If you want) in the story about the poll. We’ll also — and perhaps more important — share with you the results of the survey Sunday evening or at least 12 hours ahead of when we publish the story.

Thanks in advance for being part of this.

One other housekeeping note: Before Tuesday: Let us know your plans for an Election Night Watch Party wherever you are in Florida. Send info to


@DavidJollyFL: Nearly every individual asking to cross the U.S. border has a better value system than @realDonaldTrump.

@joshrogin: In Miami, John Bolton will announce a new policy toward Latin America to confront the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, calling them the “Troika of Tyranny.”

@HAltman: Veteran homelessness in U.S. continues to decline according to a new national estimate announced today by HUD Secretary Ben Carson. HUD’ 2018 decreased 5.4 percent since last year, falling to nearly half of the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010.

@SContorno: I asked Rick Scott if he would have been able to contribute $64 million to his campaign if his net worth hadn’t increased by $83 million while governor. His response: “I’m just gonna say I’m committed to this campaign.”

@MearKat00: Most of my mail goes straight to the garbage this time of year.

@PatriciaMazzei: It wouldn’t be a reporting trip to an early voting site in Miami without a few fire-ant bites

— @ChristineSexton: Dealing with the bureaucracy that is @AHCA_FL reminds me of lyrics from a John Lennon song … “They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool. Till you’re so f—ing crazy you can’t follow their rules.”

@MaggieNYT: It’s amazing how many people simultaneously talk about Trump undermining institutions while demanding a constitutionally-protected institution abdicate 200 years of freedom of the press.

@JBenton: If you pick up a @Gannett local newspaper the morning after the midterms next week, you’ll find … no election results. The chain’s printing deadlines are super early — like 7 p.m. — and they’re no longer willing to push them back this one day a year.


County election chiefs reported another 315K completed ballots on Thursday, making for 3.73 million votes recorded so far ahead of the 2018 general election.

Democrats threw down a combo breaker, edging out the GOP in the daily tally for the first time in a while. Their 126K mail and early votes came in 2,755 ahead of the Republican effort for the day. Third- and no-party candidates tossed in another 65K ballots via post and polls.

Though the blue team won the day, Republicans still hold a 60K advantage in the overall vote tally. The quantity of their lead has been remained solid for days. Percentage-wise, however, the Republican advantage has started to shrivel.

On Monday, Republicans led the overall vote by 2 full percentage points. By Thursday, that lead stood at 1.62 points, about a third of the 4.77 percent they held at the same point leading up to the last midterm election.

But it’s independent voters, not Democrats, who are eating away at their share. Other voters have seen their stock go up by a half-point since the beginning of the week and are now at 18.2 percent of the whole — maybe UNF was right to set the independent vote at 19 percent in their most recent Guv poll.

About 41 percent of requested mail ballots have yet to be returned. Republicans are far in the lead in completion rate, with 64 percent of their stack completing the return trip thus far. Dems and other voters come in at 57 percent and 52 percent, respectively.


Former President Barack Obama (whose Secret Service code name was “Renegade”) will “campaign alongside Florida’s leading Democratic candidates” today in South Florida.

That includes U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum.

Bring in the big guns: Barack Obama is campaigning for Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum in the final days of the race.

The event is at Ice Palace Films, 59 NW 14th St., Miami.

Some background on that venue, courtesy of Miami New Times: “Booking Ice Palace costs more than renting a Hialeah banquet hall, but when you don’t want your vision compromised and you need space for a couple thousand people, it’s money well spent.”

The 95-year-old property has white fortresslike walls surrounded by a manicured garden ideal for lounging.

Given that unique vibe, it’s no shock the space served as everything from the home of Pulse Art Fair during the week of Art Basel Miami Beach to a makeshift nightclub for Deadmau5’s free show and events during Winter Music Conference.

Because the immense space is flexible enough to fit almost any kind of request, it’s also used frequently for film production and commercial photo shoots. In fact, it features 85,000 square feet of interior space … and 58,000 square feet of garden area.


Andrew Gillum promises state workers a pay raise” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum barnstormed the Panhandle and during a Tallahassee stopover pledged to “champion” state workers if elected governor. “They have been penalized during the arc of the current administration. As mayor of this city I know that and how important they are in running the third largest state in America,” said Gillum, for whom state workers include many of his neighbors. Gillum is in a tight race with DeSantis to occupy the Governor’s Mansion. When asked about state worker pay and benefits, a DeSantis spokesman replied the campaign was solely focused on Nov. 6.

Overflow from an Andrew Gillum campaign event in Fort Myers this week.

Gillum opens up about relationship with FBI agent” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Asked by Tallahassee Democrat News Director Jennifer Portman to elaborate on a comment he told a reporter a year ago that he unequivocally broke off all ties with Miller after an uncomfortable situation, Gillum revealed that he had asked the developer to support his campaign for governor. … They were sitting at a local restaurant and Miller said that he wanted to support Gillum statewide, but was interested in local government. … “But this encounter, in particular, I was making an ask in my run for governor, and he responded in a way that seemed transactional,” Gillum said. “I never followed up, he never followed up with me and that was the end of it.”

Sheriffs ‘trust Gillum,’ new ad says” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — His new ad, titled “Oath,” details endorsements from Sheriffs Russell H. Gibson of Osceola County, Walt McNeil of Leon County, Sadie Darnell of Alachua County and Jerry Demings of Orange County. All four, like Gillum, are Democrats. In the ad, the sheriffs take turns reading the same script, pumping up Gillum’s ability to combat crime. “I took an oath to protect the public,” the sheriffs say. “So will the next governor of Florida. As mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum brought the police and the community together to crack down on violent criminals and gangs, and he reduced violent crime by 24 percent.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

DeSantis goes one-on-one with Jim DeFede — The Republican gubernatorial candidate sat down with the Facing South Florida show on CBS Miami for an exclusive discussion about calling opponent Gillum a “socialist” and the nagging allegations of racism that has dogged his campaign. DeFede called it DeSantis’ “most extensive interview yet,” and was later joined by his running mate, Jeanette Nuñez.

To watch the interview, click on the image below:

In final push, DeSantis all about suburban vote” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times – While some strategists believe that a campaign’s last push should emphasize rallies in the state’s most populous cities, DeSantis has instead been visiting places like Coral Springs, Melbourne,  Tarpon Springs and Sun City Center — in addition to a few appearances in big urban areas like Jacksonville and Miami. … This scalpel strategy is based on internal polling and modeling by the campaign, which reveal areas where DeSantis could be vulnerable, and is working to boost turnout in those places. … In addition to energizing the base, DeSantis is also trying to capture more moderates by portraying himself as the law-and-order candidate and championing other popular issues like lower taxes and cleaner water.

Assignment editors — DeSantis hosts a breakfast with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, 8:30 a.m., Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Ave., New Port Richey. Rubio will then join the DeSantis campaign at a lunch, 10:30 a.m. at the Hillsborough Victory Office, 3018 N. U.S. Highway 301, Tampa.

Assignment editors — Democratic Governors Association Chair Jay Inslee of Washington will campaign in Florida, 10:30 AM, Wynmoor Village Community Rally with Gillum, Wynmoor Village, 1310 Avenue of Stars, Coconut Creek. Also Saturday, 9 a.m., Canvass Kickoff at Gillum Miami Field Office; 2:30 p.m., Aventura canvass kickoff with environment community, 17871 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura.

Assignment editors — Republican Nuñez will join Dr. Ben Carson for a meet-and-greet, 4 p.m., 1555 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 500, West Palm Beach.


St. Pete Polls: Bill Nelson up 2 on Rick Scott” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A new survey shows Nelson grabbing 49 percent and Scott 47 percent. The latest poll shows the same demographic trends that have appeared in surveys throughout the campaign, with Nelson doing better among independent voters, women, voters of color, and younger voters, while Scott’s support is based on white voters, men, and older voters. It also shows Nelson leading handily among voters who already have cast their ballots. Among those who’ve voted, Nelson leads 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the new St. Pete Poll on Florida’s U.S. Senate race. Scott’s campaign’s hope is based on those who say they still intend to vote; among those, he leads, 50 percent to 45 percent, according to the new survey. The poll shows an almost three-point swing in Nelson’s direction since the last St. Pete Polls survey of the race, which had Scott up by less than one point on Oct. 22.

Gov. Rick Scott joins Attorney General Pam Bondi for a Get Out the Vote Rally at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre in Tampa.

Scott launches new Spanish TV ad focusing on family” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second “Familia” has Scott narrating the entire commercial in Spanish, as the video shows him with his grandchildren and at various points on the campaign trail, mostly meeting with Hispanic voters. “For me, family is everything,” Scott begins, in Spanish. “I know how hard families in Florida work. That’s why I work — so that you have the best opportunities, from good paying jobs to good schools. It’s not about one political party versus the other. It’s about making sure your family has what you need to succeed.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Scott homes in on Hispanic, independent voters with health care ad” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida — Since early voting began, he’s run at least 1,333 ads in Orlando and Tampa media markets — crucial for reaching Hispanic and independents voters — wherein he promises to protect patients with pre-existing health conditions. The political group supporting his opponent, Democratic incumbent Nelson, has run at least 541 TV hits in those same media markets, trying to convince voters of the opposite. In total, Scott has aired at least 2,029 television ads trying to convince voters that he’s going to protect them from losing their health insurance for illnesses they already have. By contrast, Senate Majority PAC, the political committee backing Nelson, has run even more ads — at least 2,707 — trying to convince voters that Scott won’t protect them.

Scott spoofed in new video from Kissimmee Puerto Rican group” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “Rick Scott” with “I Love Trump” painted on his head cavorts with Trump and Putin as dancers sing a catchy chorus in a new Spanish language parody ad made by a Puerto Rican grassroots group. The Kissimmee-based Alianza for Progress’s spoof video, “Buche Y Pluma Na’ Má’”, directed by Latin Grammy-winning Alejandro Santiago Ciena, criticizes Scott as “unreliable and untrustworthy” and seeks to tie him to President Trump. “Rick Scott said that he would have not done anything different from what President Trump did with Puerto Rico and this is part of what is wrong with our politicians,” Santiago Ciena said in a statement. “We cannot elect someone who believes that this President’s administration is doing right by our community when all evidence points otherwise.”

To view the video, click on the image below:


Everytown for Gun Safety spends $450K on last-minute mail campaign” via Florida Politics — A gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has poured $455,000 into direct mail buys according to a newly filed campaign finance report. The national branch of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund funneled $465,000 to its state-level PAC Tuesday. On the same day, the Florida fund plunked nearly all of that money down on a quartet of direct mail buys through The Pivot Group, a Washington-based political strategy firm … Before paying for a new slate of mailers, the state-level committee had spent $2.6 million since it set up shop in mid-September. … In addition to playing in the Florida elections with a state-level PAC, the national committee has spent another $600,000 boosting candidates on both sides of the aisle … Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, has received $500,000 of that money via his Innovate Florida PAC, while the remainder was split between the committees of Democratic Ag. Commissioner nominee Nikki Fried and Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw.

Sean Shaw’s anti-special interest ad features some curious casting” via Florida Politics — Normally, the extras flanking politicians in TV ads are about as memorable as the stock photo models on direct mailers. They flitter across your eyeballs for a second, before getting tossed into the orange bin in the garage. … Sometimes they’re dressed up as tradesmen or construction workers … in Shaw’s ad, they’re Floridians with pre-existing conditions … The ad is by the book … except for one detail … for a couple seconds one extra who certainly didn’t get the job through central casting becomes clearly visible: John Fox. … Fox is a member of the Florida Justice Association, one of largest special interest groups in the Sunshine State … There’s nothing wrong with giving a friend an opportunity to be on a statewide ad, but it’s a little disingenuous for Shaw to say he’s running to be Florida’s top cop so he can “disarm” certain special interests when he’s apparently pretty chummy with other ones.

Terry McAuliffe endorses Nikki Fried — The former Virginia Governor is endorsing Fried in her campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. McAuliffe’s endorsement adds to the growing focus on the Ag. Commissioner race with the issues of gun safety, water quality, and medical marijuana. McAuliffe said: “From conserving Florida’s water, to ensuring complete background checks on guns — Nikki Fried is running to make a difference. She’s part of the next generation of leaders who are stepping up throughout our nation, dissatisfied with the status quo and working to change it. Nikki is a leader who is driven to affect change and doesn’t get caught up in the politics, she focuses on the issues.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe calls Nikki Fried “part of the next generation of leaders who are stepping up throughout our nation.”

Seminole Tribe puts another $1M behind Amendment 3 push” via Florida Politics — Voters in Charge, the committee sponsoring Amendment 3, has been heavily backed by the tribe as well as Disney Worldwide Services. With the new check, the Seminole Tribe has anted up $24.35 million for the Amendment 3 push since December 2017. Disney has put $19.65 million into the campaign since handing over its first contribution in April 2017. Combined, the Seminoles and Disney have put exactly $44 million into the committee, which represents all but $314,000 of the money it has raised since it started accepting contributions in late 2015. Voters in Charge had $13 million left to spend heading into November.

Amendment 5 getting closer to passage, according to St. Pete Polls” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey on Amendment 5, which would require a supermajority in the Legislature to increase taxes, has a path to passage. The survey shows 47 percent in favor, with 34 percent against and 18 percent undecided. If the undecideds break in the same proportion as those who have an opinion, that would leave “yes” at around 58 percent support. That’s just short of the 60 percent required for passage. Or the undecideds could lean more toward “yes” or “no” than those who have made up their minds, pushing it over the 60-percent threshold or leaving it far short. But with 18 percent still unsure, the amendment at least has a chance of getting through.

Southern Christian leaders, ministers endorse Amendment 6 — Representatives of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the international civil rights and human rights organization, converged on Tallahassee to endorse Amendment 6 — the crime victims’ rights amendment known as Marcy’s Law for Florida. Dr. Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, joined area ministers to speak out on behalf of Amendment 6: Dr. R.B. Holmes Jr., Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church; Lee Johnson, Pastor of Loved by Jesus Family Church; and Darrick McGhee Sr., Pastor of Bible Based Church. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believes rights for crime victims are essential human rights. Protecting and strengthening crime victims’ rights falls in line with the organization’s mission of pursuing equality and justice. It has supported similar crime victims’ rights measures in other states.

Education contributes to a winning combination in Amendment 7” via Florida Politics — Amendment 7 would protect the Florida College System, provide benefits for families of military and first responders, and maintain college affordability for students. As the only public educational entity not currently in the Florida Constitution, a “yes” vote will affirm the community and state colleges’ role as providing open access, quality education in your community, and the seamless connection between K12 and the state university system. Specifically, Amendment 7’s emphasis on preserving local authority is key to the success of the colleges. Boards of trustees ensure that colleges can remain responsive to the academic and workforce needs of their communities.

Jeff Greene pitches in $225K to help Democrats” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A spokeswoman for Greene announced that this week he contributed $100,000 to a committee supporting Gillum‘s gubernatorial campaign, $100,000 to a Democratic U.S. Senate get-out-the-vote effort in support of Sen. Nelson‘s re-election campaign, and $25,000 to a committee supporting Fried‘s bid to be elected Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

Tweet, tweet:


Keep an eye on CD 25 – MCI Maps/Matt Isbell confirmed’s analysis of the CD 25 race: this is one to watch. MCI updated its Florida congressional rankings yesterday, moving CD 25 from “likely R” to “toss-up”. Isbell points to the fact that incumbent Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s “hasn’t had a real fight in years” and is running a “weak campaign” against former judge Barzee Flores, who has “raised well over $1.8 million and has been criss-crossing the district.” Meanwhile, the Diaz-Balart camp’s “foolish strategy” of sitting on a half-million in spendable campaign dollars is looking more so as national gun control PAC, Giffords’ Courage dumped $200,000 into the Miami market this week. Said Isbell, “While I think Balart has a narrow edge due to the partisan lean of the district, I don’t feel comfortable even keeping it at Lean R.  Tossup is my new ranking.”

Democrats defend Lauren Book after she takes heat from her own party” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that some Senate Democrats in key races and party consultants were annoyed … Book was sitting on a political committee with more than $1.5 million in the bank but had only given $50,000 to key races as Democrats push to flip the Florida Senate. … In response, Democratic consultant Steve Vancore, who works with Book, sent statements … from Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo and outgoing state Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon defending Book. … Braynon’s statement blasted the “anonymous consultants” quoted in the previous POLITICO story and said they should be “worried about winning races.”

Tom Wright lets GOP attacks against Mel Martin do all his talking” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – (T)he race has taken a turn for the surreal when — amid a barrage of attack direct-mail advertisements — one made the claim that in the annals of worst government spending, an experiment involving cougars and exercise equipment has now been topped by a couple of ideas supported by the Democrat in the race. … It’s unclear where Wright, Martin’s opponent, stands on term limits, good-government rules and the minimum wage, as he’s refused to do a substantive interview in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election.

Mike Caruso facing questions after pair of disputed endorsements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican candidate Caruso of House District 89 is facing questions over a pair of endorsements to his campaign attributed to former Ocean Ridge Mayor Geoff Pugh and former Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein. Both Pugh and Glickstein say they made no such endorsement. However, the Caruso campaign did provide a copy of an email from April showing Glickstein giving Caruso his endorsement. Glickstein says that only applied to the primary campaign. The claim of an endorsement by Pugh appears to be the result of an error, and the Caruso campaign has admitted as much.

Mike Caruso faces scrutiny over questionable endorsements.

Pensacola mayor’s race likely most expensive in history, attracts state political action committee” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal – The two candidates running for Pensacola mayor have raised nearly $425,000 collectively. That number is more than double the $195,760 raised during the first “strong mayor” race in 2010 between the five candidates who filed to run at that time. Pensacola City Councilman Brian Spencer has out-raised Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson by more than $90,000, for a campaign chest of $258,164. … But the candidates’ campaign money is not the only money in the race. A statewide political action committee has gotten involved in the race and is sending out flyers attacking Robinson for taking a salary during his 12 years on the commission.

These Florida restaurants are next-door neighbors, but they’re worlds apart politically” via Anne Geggis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Cook and The Cork and Wings Plus are restaurants that sit side by side at opposite ends of the world, in a strip mall at Sample Road and Northwest 99th Way in Coral Springs, Florida. Their strained relationship serves as a microcosm of a divided America as the country barrels toward one of the nastiest elections in history. Wings Plus is a must for many state and national notables such as Eric Trump, Herman Cain and Gov. Scott. The 300-seat restaurant hosted a rally for DeSantis on Oct. 28. That’s when the animosity between the restaurateurs came to a head. Dena Blauschild and her husband, Keith, The Cook and The Cork chef and sommelier, learned that a grandstand was set up in front of their 50-seat restaurant for the rally. DeSantis actually was photographed under the Pride flag. “A lot of people thought we were involved in organizing the rally,” Keith Blauschild said. The Blauschilds called police and threatened to tow cars. But Brian Walsh, who has run the wings restaurant for 30 years here, said the flare-up was just a misunderstanding.


Former Speakers lead efforts for Panhandle recovery” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The new Rebuild 850 initiative, named after the region’s telephone area code, is intended to encourage investment from businesses and others while boosting volunteer participation. Backers hope it will help keep people from forgetting the beachfront and rural communities devastated by the Category 4 hurricane, which so far has caused at least $4.5 billion in damage and an estimated 35 deaths in Florida. Former House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican, and his father-in-law, former Speaker Allan Bense of Panama City, said they expect the federal government and state leaders will work to address the region’s needs, just as lawmakers did for other parts of Florida after Hurricane Irma last year.

Former Florida House Speakers Will Weatherford and Allan Bense challenge other entities and people to “donate, volunteer, visit and invest” in the affected region.

Ex-state employee says politics drove ouster” via the News Service of Florida — A former state employee contends in a federal lawsuit she was forced to resign because she wouldn’t contribute to the election campaign of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy PatronisChristine Taul alleges in the lawsuit that she was “constructively” discharged by Patronis from her position as risk-management program administrator in the Department of Financial Services for “associating with a political party different from that which defendant Patronis is a member and not associating with defendant Patronis.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee. A spokeswoman for Patronis, a Republican, dismissed the lawsuit as “completely false.”

Supreme Court rules car can be ‘weapon’” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Justices, in a 6-1 decision, rejected an appeal by Adam Shepard, who was convicted on a charge of manslaughter with a weapon after fatally striking Spencer Schott with a car in January 2011 following the altercation. Under state law, the use of a weapon bumped up the manslaughter charge from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony, carrying a longer sentence. The issue in the appeal centered on whether a car could be considered a weapon under a state reclassification law that allows such increased sentences. In ruling against Shepard, the Supreme Court made the somewhat-unusual move of backing away from a 1995 decision, which said a weapon must be “commonly understood to be an instrument for combat.” Justice Jorge Labarga, in the majority opinion, wrote that the law allowing sentences to be increased does not define “weapon” and that the 1995 decision too narrowly defined the term.

Several districts dropped from Florida Best and Brightest lawsuit” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Forty-three Florida school districts and a handful of specialty schools no longer are party to the Florida Education Association’s legal challenge of the 2015 “Best and Brightest” bonus program. Over the past three days, lawyers for the sides agreed to dismiss the systems from the case, which contends that the legislative allocation discriminates against teachers who are older or who are minorities. The districts removed from the suit are the state’s smaller ones, including Pasco and Hernando in the Tampa Bay area. The state’s largest school districts, including Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, remain defendants.

Harris Corp. launches appeal on radio contract” via the News Service of Florida — The Melbourne-based company filed a notice of appeal of a decision by the Florida Department of Management Services to award the contract to a Harris competitor, Motorola Solutions, Inc., according to a docket on the 1st District Court of Appeal website. The department last month adopted a recommended order issued by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper and dismissed a protest filed by Harris Corp. The department in March announced it planned to award the contract, which is expected to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to Motorola.

Florida tees up another $3 million for red tide relief in Pinellas County” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — … bringing the total so far to $6.3 million for Pinellas. The funding comes from the Florida Department of Environment Protection’s red tide emergency fund. Scott is infusing another $3 million into that fund to make sure other Florida counties can access relief as the need arises. “As our coastal communities continue to combat red tide, we are taking action to ensure they have the resources they need. In total, we have provided more than $20 million to respond to this year’s red tide, including funding for cleanup efforts, additional scientific testing and marketing through VISIT FLORIDA,” Scott said … funds include the $6.3 million for Pinellas County as well as $1.5 million for Sarasota County. Manatee County received $750,000.

Worst story you’ll read today — “Florida man kills wife, himself just before they planned to take kids trick-or-treating, cops say” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald — An argument that broke out between a Lakeland couple just before they were to take their children trick-or-treating on Halloween ended in violence, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Antero Araujo Quintana, 40, shot his wife, 42-year-old Beatriz Araujo then himself during an argument in the home. Witnesses told investigators the Araujo and Quintana “had been arguing for several days” and were getting ready to take the children trick-or-treating when the argument broke out. The couple’s 21-year-old son witnessed the shooting, according to a preliminary investigation by deputies. Their other two children, investigators said, were waiting in the family’s truck at the time and did not see the incident.


Harold Hempstead is writing a book. 

The imprisoned whistleblower four years ago told the Miami Herald that fellow prisoner Darren Rainey was tortured by a scalding hot shower that ultimately killed him. 

Now, reports the Herald, after a transfer to a Tennessee facility Hempstead is working on publishing a 400-page tell-all about Florida’s prison system. 

Harold Hempstead is the key witness to the torture and murder of Darren Rainey. And he is writing a book.

Gangs: A preview manuscript offered to Herald reporter Sanya Mansoor tells of “a system overrun with gang members, where inmates are routinely sliced from mouth to ear with makeshift blades.” 

‘Protective management’: That’s the phrase coined for the are where “inmates with special security needs” are held. Hempstead writes that it’s where “staffers feel emboldened to impose harsh retribution away from the prying eyes of the general population and upper-level staff,” according to Mansoor. 

Timely: “If he could convince only one person to read his book, he wishes it could be the next governor of Florida, who could actually provide leadership and impose reforms,” Mansoor writes. 


Trump revives ‘Willie Horton’ tactic with ad linking illegal immigrant killer to Democrats” via Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post — Pinned at the top of Trump’s Twitter feed was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mustache and long chin hair. Smiling, he announces, “I killed f‐‐‐— cops.” “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” reads text on the 53-second video, which is filled with audible expletives. “Democrats let him into our country … Democrats let him stay.” The text is superimposed over videos of Bracamontes appearing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declaring, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.” Trump and Republicans were criticized for “fearmongering,” and the ad has been decried as “racist,” with many likening it to the infamous “Willie Horton” ads supporting George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election. Only the video Trump shared, critics say, is “far worse.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Emails: Roger Stone shills to Trump campaign as WikiLeaks conduit” via Michael Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times — Emails provide new insight into efforts by Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump and political operative, to seek funding through the campaign for his projects aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton. Stone had long claimed both publicly and privately that he had foreknowledge of the information that WikiLeaks planned to release about Mrs. Clinton and her political allies. In early October, Stone predicted on his Twitter account that the documents that Julian Assange promised to make public would hurt Clinton’s campaign.

Kathy Castor says Democrats will propose allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices if they take back the House” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Hillsborough County-area Democratic U.S. Rep. Castor said Trump’s recently announced proposal to reduce pharmaceutical drug prices by linking the price Medicare pays to an international pricing index is a worthy idea, but she has absolutely no faith he’ll follow through on it. “Just like he pronounced early on that ‘I’m going to take on the drug companies,’ and then in a flourish it was ‘problem solved,’” she said. That was a reference to Trump’s statement in May that he planned to lower prescription drug prices, mostly through regulatory authority. He dubbed it “the most sweeping action in history” to reduce the cost of drugs for consumers. There was no follow through, however, leaving Democrats skeptical that Trump is serious about a proposal he campaigned on in the 2016 presidential election.


NRA working to hold its grip on Agriculture Commissioner” via Joe Henderson for the Tampa Bay Times — The race between Matt Caldwell and Nikki Fried to be the next agriculture commissioner is as much about guns, maybe more so, than strawberries or citrus greening. This state does tend to pass permits out like so many Gasparilla beads, but there are reasons even in Florida to just say no with someone wants a license to conceal and carry. Fried made this an issue and promises, if elected, to implement new safeguards in the permitting process. Sounds like common sense to me, but here’s where the hysteria comes into play. Marion Hammer, the NRA lobbyist whose influence among politicians and Second Amendment supporters is considerable, decided to stoke the fires of opposition. She flatly declared in a statement to NRA members, “Fried opposes your Second Amendment right to self-defense. If Fried gets elected, she will do everything she can to eliminate our gun rights. That is the plain truth.” That is plain balderdash.

Don’t get swindled by Amendment 1” via Karson Turner of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amendment 1 is about as authentic as that Nigerian prince in your inbox — promising to “richly reward” you as his “discreet partner” with an overseas bank account. Tallahassee politicians are selling Amendment 1 as a tax cut. They’re betting voters fall for the false promise of easy money. The politicians aren’t after easy money in return, but rather “easy votes.” During the next election cycle, they’ll happily campaign on a tax cut that never happened — because Amendment 1 isn’t a tax cut, it’s a tax shift. Amendment 1 benefits a chosen few by targeting tax breaks to properties that include a value between $100,000 and $125,000. That’s less than a quarter of Florida properties. For those of us with more expensive or more modest homes, we face a larger tax burden and are at risk of property tax hikes.

FAPA: Yes on Amendment 2 will avert tax crisis” via Florida Politics — The Florida Association of Property Appraisers (FAPA) recommends Floridians vote YES on Amendment 2. The amendment asks voters whether to make permanent a 10 percent limit on the annual increase in assessed value of a non-homestead property. A “yes” vote will avert a sudden and largely unexpected tax crisis for more than 5 million residential and business property owners throughout Florida. Most homeowners in Florida enjoy the tax savings afforded by two $25,000 homestead exemptions. Business owners, rental property owners, second homeowners and part-time retirees, whose permanent residence may be in another state, are not eligible for those exemptions. For them, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 that placed a 10 percent limit on the annual increase in assessed value of a non-homestead property, commonly referred to as the 10 percent cap.

Mike Prendergast: Duty, honor and country” via Florida Politics — Voters across the state of Florida will have an epic opportunity to ensure that they protect our veterans and thank them for their service in a way that has never been done before in our state’s history. A “yes” vote on Amendment 10 will ensure that the needs of our military members are always supported and that the priceless service of our veterans is never forgotten. Florida is home to the nation’s third largest population of veterans, with more than one-half of our veterans having served in combat. I write today to stress the importance of Amendment 10, the “Protection Amendment.” Passage of Amendment 10 will ensure that our state’s Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) will be a permanent part of our state government’s structure. This agency (FDVA) is the essential conduit for every veteran in Florida to get access to their earned services and benefits.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: GA Foods

Larry Cretul, GrayRobinson: Hillsborough County Aviation Authority

Edgar Fernandez, Anfield Consulting: Aquatic Control Group

David Harvey, David F. Harvey & Associates: Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office

Ryan Kimmey: Florida Osteopathic Medical Association

Mark Vincent: New York Life Insurance Company


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: Gubernatorial candidates Gillum and DeSantis, Nancy Ancrum, Miami Herald editorial page editor and Rosemary O’Hara, Sun-Sentinel editorial page editor.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Bay News 9 and AM Radio 820 News host Chris Ingram; Florida state director of “For Our Future” Ashley Walker; Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano; and Paula Dockery, columnist and former state Senator.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s show will examine the state of autonomous vehicles in Florida and safeguards being enacted to protect drivers and pedestrians. Joining Walker-Torres are state Sens. Jeff Brandes and Dennis Baxley, on the Transportation Committee; state Rep. Wengay Newton, on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee; Dr. Rahul Razdan, Florida Polytechnic University professor; Michael Jernigan, Florida Polytechnic University student; Beth Alden, executive director, Hillsborough County MetroPlan; and Eric Hill, director of Transportation System Management, MetroPlan Orlando.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A preview of the midterm elections, and the latest updates on the campaigns. Supervisors of Elections Brian Corley (Pasco County) and Craig Latimer (Hillsborough County) will join host Al Ruechel to discuss important voting information.

Politics on Your Side with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Florida’s 12th Congressional District candidates Chris Hunter (Democrat) and Angelika Purkis (NPA).

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mulaney and Chris Hand, former Chief of Staff for the City of Jacksonville (2011 to 2015).

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the midterm elections, the Pittsburgh synagogue rampage in the growing problem of anti-Semitism in the United States.

— ALOE —

Welcome to the world:

What Adam Babington is reading —Disney World wraps up Halloween, shifts into Christmas gear” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — In the blink of a night, Magic Kingdom theme park has gone from Halloween to Christmas. When the park opened, the motif was garland and red bows, thanks to a shift of swift overnight workers. I counted more than 100 wreaths up and down Main Street and around the hub at the base of Cinderella Castle. Some are Mickey-shaped, some have bells, some feature citrus. And that’s not counting the hanging baskets and poinsettia towers on display. There are a few holiday trees — up on the train station, near the Snow White meet-and-greet — but the giant ones are not yet in place. Disney’s décor tends to come out in phases through the parks and hotels, and Magic Kingdom has been a traditional starting point.

Starbucks aims to create reusable-cup habit with holiday push” via Benjamin Romano of The Seattle Times — The company plans to offer a 50-cent discount on drinks served in seasonal reusable cups after 2 p.m. during the next two months. The increased incentive, running through early January, is part of an ongoing effort to drive business to Starbucks stores in the afternoons and a broader sustainability initiative aimed at reducing waste from disposable cups. “We’re really trying to create a habit here,” said Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer. “When we know that people are most likely paying attention to our cups, we want to make sure we get this out in front of them.”

Universal Orlando lays out plans for future I-Drive expansion” via Richard Bilbao of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Documents filed with Orange County dubbed “Universal Boulevard PD/DP3 Infrastructure DP,” show eventual roadway systems and infrastructure that appear to be part of the theme park giant’s future plans for more than 500 vacant acres. Universal is seeking county approval “to construct infrastructure only on a total of 541.50 acres,” the documents showed. Images show a complex roadway system that includes multiple interchanges and roundabouts, which would provide guest access to multiple destinations. The bulk of the roadway system appears to be on the southwestern side of the property, closer to Universal Boulevard and near the Orange County Convention Center’s North/South Concourse. The plans also show an unidentified bulk area that may be either a large surface lot for potential theme park back-of-house operations or parking.

’Stranger Things’ staying open for extra day at Universal” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — The popular HHN house themed after the Netflix series “Stranger Things” will be open for day guests at Universal Studios Florida Tuesday, Nov. 6 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. This will be the first time Universal has opened an HHN house during regular park hours. It’s being done in celebration of “Stranger Things Day,” marking the date in the show where, in its fictional version of 1983, Will Byers disappeared into the Upside Down. “Guests will walk in the footsteps of Will as they encounter iconic scenes, characters and environments from the first season of the series — including the menacing Hawkins National Laboratory, the Byers home adorned with an erratic display of flashing Christmas lights and the predatory Demogorgon … which will stalk their every move,” Universal said in a news release.

Stranger Things is going to stay just a little longer at Universal.

What Stephanie Smith is reading — “Uber drivers can study at ASU online for free under program” via The Associated Press — Arizona State University and Uber announced a new partnership that will allow some of the ride-sharing app’s drivers to pursue a degree online. Under the pilot program, eligible drivers can take ASU classes online with the cost of tuition fully covered. The money will come from Uber, ASU and financial aid programs. The program will launch in eight places including Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa and New Jersey. Both ASU and Uber say students will also get support and “success coaching.” Drivers who have done at least 3,000 rides and have “platinum” or higher status are eligible.

Happy birthday this weekend to a trio of solid Florida politicos Taylor Budowich, Clay Barker, and Ken Granger.

Written By

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.

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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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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