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Sunburn for 11.6.18 — Happy Election Day!

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

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

So this is Election Day

And what have you done

Another year over


And a new one just begun

(with apologies to John Lennon)

Happy Election Day to all.

Some of you will be pleased this cycle is over; others will be wondering where your next paycheck is coming from.

No matter how good or bad you have it by the end of the night, just remember poor Josh Lyman from “The West Wing,” trolled by his own pal Toby Ziegler in an excruciating Election Day practical joke.

In sum, Lyman is forced to think that confused voters are invalidating their ballots by ‘overvoting.’

Here’s the clip from YouTube, then vote (if you haven’t already):

It’s voting time, which means it’s also crunch time to think about who is emerging from the 2018 midterm election as a winner or a loser. Right now (no seriously, like RIGHT NOW), we are asking for your nominations for the W&L columns. Who, or what issue, is up or down? This includes pollsters, consultants, staff members, and so on. We’re looking, obviously, for specific people and issues. Your answers will remain confidential. Send to

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Florida candidates will be on election night” via Florida Politics

It’s not the party … It’s the after party! A rundown of where South Florida candidates will be on election night” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Tampa Bay-area candidates will be on election night” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics


@Journo_Christal: Statement from intelligence community before Election Day says “no indication“ of any compromise to election infrastructure but adds: “Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions..”

@RealDonaldTrump: Republicans have created the best economy in the HISTORY of our Country — and the hottest jobs market on planet earth. The Democrat Agenda is a Socialist Nightmare. The Republican Agenda is the AMERICAN DREAM! Vote.GOP

@BarackObama: If you take that power and vote, something powerful happens. Change happens. Hope happens. And with each new step we take in the direction of fairness, and justice, and equality, and opportunity, hope spreads. Go vote!

@GennX: On the eve, my last piece of advice. Go vote. But if at this point, if you are still undecided or uneducated on a race or issue, skip it and move on, democracy isn’t a guess.

@ExJon: I’ve crunched the numbers. This is only the 11th Most Important Election of Our Lifetimes.

@KimGuilfoyle: I have been across the country and spoke at over 100+ events with @DonaldJTrumpJr the last few months I can tell you firsthand there is something big happening We will prove the “experts” wrong tomorrow when our base turns out and votes! Let’s keep the movement going, VOTE!

@GusCorbella: I miss the days of a good ole fashioned 10-15 point election night stomping. Whatever happened to those?

@AmandiOnAir: Yesterday on @MSNBC’s @amjoyshow I termed this potentially decisive electoral phenomenon “The Jolly Effect” after ex @GOP Congressman, @DavidJollyFL who’s famously voting for @TheDemocrats in the #Midterms2018 despite being lifelong GOP.

@FredPiccoloJr: The Jolly Effect — the act of morphing oneself from arch-conservative to triggered liberal to obtain media praise and Twitter minions. This affliction is rare, mainly impacting candidates who lost elections. Treatment options include spinal transplant & sarcastic tweets.

@EvanAxelbank: A former Democratic elected official just said to me of the Gillum campaign: you know it was a good campaign because their message at the end is the same as it was at the beginning

@MDixon55: What im going to miss most is campaign staffers mocking the crowd size of their opponent’s rallies on Twitter


Democrats took the lead in pre-Election Day voting by nearly a half-point Monday, flipping the script on the numbers ahead of Election Day 2014, when Republicans headed into the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November with a 3-point lead.

As it stands, Democrats crossed the 2-million-vote mark with 75,000 ballots to spare while Republicans were 24,523. Dems made up most of that ground through early voting: The current tally shows them up by 85,570 ballots in that metric while Republican’s once ironclad lead in VBM has been whittled down to 63,047 ballots.

In all, 5.22 million votes have been cast and 39.7 percent of them have come from Democrats, 39.3 percent have come from Republicans and 21 percent have come from the “others” — not the perennial Game of Thrones mob, but the amalgamation no- and third-party voters who likely hold the keys to the kingdom for statewide candidates.

Early votes were cast today as well, but only in the half-dozen predominantly Republican counties leveled by Hurricane Michael last month. Mail ballots reaching county supervisors of election today and tomorrow will also be tabulated in the final pre-Election Day vote numbers.


Why do midterm elections even exist? Here’s why the framers schedule things this way” via Olivia Waxman of Time magazine — The simplest explanation for how the Constitutional Convention decided that was an appropriate time limit is that they viewed it as a compromise between the annual elections used by early state legislatures and the roughly three-year terms that had existed in Britain. Plus, setting pre-established times for elections made sure that: “Unlike in parliamentary systems, American political parties could not call advantageous elections,” according to the Office of the Historian at the House of Representatives. “Elections would be held according to a given length of time rather than when political leaders thought they would be most likely to win.” In addition, some argued that the complexities of running a national government meant that members would need more than a year to get used to the rules and procedures, not to mention that in those days, it also just took longer to physically travel to the national seat of power than the local seat of power.

Midterms have a purpose, so say the framers of the Constitution.

Jittery investors await outcome of midterm elections” via Alex Veiga of The Associated Press — The midterm elections are certain to have implications for Wall Street, regardless of how they shape the balance of power in Congress. That’s because in every scenario there could be winners and losers in key sectors of the market, including banking, pharmaceuticals, companies that would benefit from government infrastructure projects and those that rely on healthy consumer spending, analysts say. The scenario deemed most likely by recent polls and analyst projections have Democrats regaining control of the House of Representatives and Republicans keeping control of the Senate. The odds are longer for Republicans or Democrats emerging with majorities in both chambers.

—“Gauging the wave: Look to Virginia for early signs of ‘suburban revolt’” via Heidi Przybyla of NBC News

Marco Rubio: There will be a red wave (today)” via Emily Birnbaum of The Hill — “In 2016, when we went in that final day, everybody was predicting gloom and doom,” Rubio recalled during a campaign event for Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis. “They didn’t realize how many people out there were waiting for Election Day.” He said people went to the polls in person because they were so excited to vote that year. “Forget about a blue wave,” Rubio added. “A red wave of votes started coming in. That’s what’s gonna happen again now.” “But we have to make sure it happens,” he said. “That’s what we have to do now. Today is about making sure that everyone turns out and votes.”

Win Justice talks to 4M voters ahead of Election Day — The Win Justice coalition — a combo of Florida Planned Parenthood PAC, the SEIU Florida, Center for Community Change Action, Color of Change PAC, New Florida Majority and Organize Florida and Florida Immigrant Coalition Votes— has talked to 4 million Florida voters, including 1.5 million door knocks of infrequent voters in black and LatinX communities and a texting program that hit up 1.2 million cell phones. One measurable the group is touting: Nearly 330,000 people out of 1.2 million low propensity voters casting a ballot through early voting and vote by mail. Also, on the scoreboard: Signing up over 17,000 Floridians for vote-by-mail ballots.

Dems whiffed in 2016, so what if they fail again?” via Julie Pace of The Associated Press — This year, history is on Democrats’ side. The sitting president’s party often losing ground in the first midterm after winning office, and for much of 2018, voter enthusiasm and polling has favored Democrats as well. But the president has proved once again to be a powerful political force late in a campaign. Even with his daily airing of grievances on Twitter and an approval rate below the average for his recent predecessors at this point, he has almost single-handedly put Republicans in a stronger position this fall. He’s aggressively appealed to his loyal, core supporters with a sharply anti-immigrant, nationalist message and by casting Democrats as outside the mainstream. If Republicans hang on to control of Congress, Trump will almost certainly be emboldened. Democrats would be left with difficult questions about a path forward. For example, how can Democrats assemble a winning coalition in 2020 if they fail to appeal to the moderate suburban voters who hold sway in the congressional districts that decide which party holds a House majority? And how will Democrats, if they fall short, sustain the energy from young people and women who have marched in protest of Trump, registered to vote and volunteered for the first time this election season.

Exit pollsters make changes after 2016 breakdown” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — In a joint statement, a consortium of four news networks at the company that conducts the exit polls, Edison Research, announced changes meant to make this year’s surveys more accurate after 2016, when early results suggested Hillary Clinton was more likely to win the presidential election than Trump — yet another example of the exit poll’s overestimating Democrats’ performance in the vote count. The changes are designed to better account for the sharp cleavages in the electorate along educational lines, especially among white voters, and the continually increasing share of the vote that is cast before Election Day in states that allow early or no-excuse absentee voting.

A centrist in a liberal test Florida, and Democrats everywhere watch closely” via Matt Flegenheimer and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — For two years, national Democrats have been puzzling over how best to counter Donald Trump, plotting their comeback in areas red, blue and in between. And in the country’s largest swing state, they have constructed perhaps their purest possible test case. There is Andrew Gillum, the young, black, uncompromising progressive, who wants to impeach the president and takes the stage to “Walk It Talk It” by Migos. And there is Bill Nelson, the septuagenarian, white, unapologetic centrist who revels in incrementalism and joined Congress the year Gillum was born. Even now, amid wide-scale upheaval in the party, some Democrats believe that this approach remains the surest way to win here, fearing that Gillum’s left-wing platform risks alienating the kinds of moderates and soft Republicans that Nelson has made a career out of drawing in. But as Nelson reaches Election Day, many in the party have been quietly hoping that Gillum would lift his fellow Democrat through sheer force of personality.

— “A guide to the 2018 midterm elections in Florida” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press


Nate Silver pegs Gov. race at 3 in 4 chance of Andrew Gillum victory” via Florida Politics — According to national elections forecaster Silver and other folks at, Gillum has a 3-4 chance of prevailing against DeSantis in Florida’s gubernatorial election on Tuesday. That estimation, however, doesn’t mean Gillum is polling at 75 percent. In fact, Silver figures Gillum will walk away with about 51 percent of the vote share, while DeSantis will finish at around the 47 percent mark. FiveThirtyEight put Gillum’s race in the context of other states the went for Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012. In that category, Democrats in the Sunshine State hold a “more modest lead” than those in others, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, where the candidates for Governor are “clear favorites.”

Marco Rubio works the crowd at an Orlando GOTV rally for Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis has record haul of matching funds” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis received a check for $363,575 on Friday, bringing to $2.67 million his total from the program, which provides matches for individual contributions of $250 or less to statewide candidates’ campaigns. DeSantis edged past the haul of 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, as the final checks for this year’s elections were doled out to five candidates, according to the state Division of Elections website. Crist, who is now a congressman from St. Petersburg, tapped the taxpayer-subsidized program for $2.58 million in his unsuccessful bid in the 2014 midterm election to unseat Gov. Rick Scott. Gillumdrew just under $2.37 million from the program. Gillum received a check for $138,632 on Friday.

Don Cheadle ads call out DeSantis’ racism, tell voters to elect Gillum” via Jenna Amatulli of HuffPost — Radio and digital advertisements calling out Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate DeSantis’ racist behavior, featuring actor Cheadle’s voice, have been launched in Jacksonville. First, Cheadle points out DeSantis’ refusal to return campaign contributions from a donor who referred to former President Barack Obama as a “Muslim n****r” in a tweet. Then Cheadle addresses DeSantis’ role as the reported moderator of a racist Facebook group that targeted African-Americans, Muslims and survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

‘I don’t want to be judged by my worst day’, Gillum says” via Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum bussed around North Florida Monday, making closing arguments. Speaking in Madison of Amendment 4, which would restore the rights of reformed felons (except rapists and murderers), Gillum was passionate advocating for “second chance.” … “You can’t tell people to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, then erect every barrier,” Gillum said, before pivoting to a somewhat more cryptic territory. “I don’t want to be judged by my worst day,” Gillum said, without adding detail as to what that worst day would be. His opponent might have some ideas. Since getting the nomination, Republican Ron DeSantis has slammed Gillum for perceived ethical lapses regarding taking perks from lobbyists and undercover FBI agents investigating corruption in Tallahassee.

Gillum vows areas won’t be ‘forgotten’ if he wins” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — For many members of the almost-all black audience who came to hear Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum speak, Gillum represents more than the opportunity to make history by putting an African-American in the Florida governor’s mansion. The Tallahassee Mayor also carries the promise of delivering what some of the region’s black residents feel has been lacking in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael. “We need more support in the black areas,” Lori Hall, 42, said. “It’s like we’re forgotten about.” Gillum veered from his typical stump speech to target the folks in the audience, some of whose homes still lack power. “Marianna, I want you to know that, even though this area is often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Coast,’ you’re not going to be forgotten with the Gillum-King administration.”

Assignment editors — DeSantis will join his family and supporters for on Election Day sign waving event, 7:15 a.m. Eastern time, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 545 A1A North, Ponte Vedra Beach.


Tweet, tweet:


Two down-ballot races that could offer a sense of how the election results are shaping up for the Democrats and Republicans are the tight contests in CD 15 and SD 8. So we polled these races one more time Monday to see where they were at.

CD 15 is traditionally a likely Republican district and should not be in play for the Democrats, however Republican Ross Spano has run a bumbling, lackluster campaign and given Democrat Kristen Carlson an opening. Spano is still holding a two point lead over Carlson, but nine percent of the electorate remainsl undecided, so this is definitely a race to watch Tuesday night.

The race in SD 8 has become more competitive in recent weeks with incumbent Republican Keith Perry still leading Democrat Kayser Enneking, 48 to 43 percent, but not at the double-digit margin he was last month. Enneking is actually leading him among those who say they have already voted, but Perry, like most Republicans, is expecting to overtake his Democrat opponent on Election Day.

Florida Politics will have more on both of these races later in the day Tuesday.


Matt Caldwell enters Election Day playing defense — Republican Ag. Commissioner nominee Caldwell entered the final stretch of his statewide campaign playing defense over attacks lobbed by Democratic challenger Nikki Fried that Caldwell had heavy support from the sugar industry. His campaign put out a new ad highlighting his efforts to “make conservation a real priority” as a state legislator and saying he has “always fought the special interests on both sides who didn’t want to see the problem solved” … Going into a prevent formation is nothing new for a winning team, but Caldwell is — at best — tied with Fried. A recent St. Pete Polls survey commissioned by Florida Politics found the Lehigh Acres Republican down one with 6 percent undecided. That poll showed Fried and other statewide Democrats up big among early voters, while showing the inverse for those yet to vote.

Matt Caldwell enters Election Day on the defense.

Disney, Seminole Tribe and Casinos continued to ante up in Amendment 3 fight — The principal committee backing the anti-gambling expansion amendment, Voters in Charge, has kept cashing checks from Disney and The Seminole Tribe of Florida, while the main committee working against the measure, Citizens for the Truth About Amendment 3, has received some last-minute help from big casino interests. The pro-Amendment 3 effort has raked in more than $45 million, almost exclusively from its two major benefactors. Citizens for the Truth, meanwhile, has tallied $16 million in receipts, including $10 million in October. MGM Resorts International, Xpressbet, Jacksonville Greyhound Racing and 831 Federal Highway Acquisitions each sent more than $1 million apiece to fight the change, which would strip the Legislature of its authority to expand gambling in the state. Most polling shows Amendment 3 in good position to pass on Tuesday. It is one of a dozen measures in front of voters in this cycle, including seven amendments placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and three by the state Legislature.

Amendment 4 a personal fight for once imprisoned Orange County Commissioner Mildred Fernández” via George Diaz for the Orlando Sentinel — Fernández stands with 1.2 million convicted felons who hope Amendment 4 passes on Election Day. She knows their story well because she is one of them. The amendment will restore voting rights to felons convicted of nonviolent crimes if it passes by the 60 percent threshold. Fernandez is a card-carrying Republican, which puts her in a direct line of fire with the GOP conservative base. Fernández tiptoes across party lines, hoping her story resonates. She bears the scars of a precipitous fall from grace after accepting a bribe from an agent posing as a developer during the 2010 Orange County mayoral race.


GOTV group knocked on 1 million doors during early voting” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL), a progressive group helping to elect Democrats this election cycle, says it knocked on more than 1 million doors during this year’s early voting period. The organization says those efforts resulted in more than 200,000 conversations. FOF-FL says its 1,600 staff members and volunteers will continue its turnout operation — get out the vote, or GOTV — ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day. “Everything we are doing in these final hours is to channel the energy we’ve witnessed over the past two years into getting folks out to vote for Mayor Gillum and Sen. Nelson,” said Ashley Walker, the group’s state director. “We’ve seen a huge jump in both volunteers and enthusiasm the closer we get to Election Day. But we know enthusiasm isn’t enough, folks have to cast their ballots.”

SEIU Florida makes final GOTV push — Service employee union SEIU is taking a page from Marshall Zhukov and mobilizing a portion of the union’s 55,000 Sunshine State members to make one final GOTV push to ahead of the 2018 election. Among those participating in the last run are Marilyn Ralat Albernas, a 63-year-old nurse and cancer survivor … “As a cancer survivor, every day of this election I’ve been asking myself what I would do if I lost my health insurance because of what DeSantis said about cancer patients and his repeated votes to take away coverage for pre-existing conditions. Gillum has provided unwavering support for people like me, and we need to vote like our life depends on it.” … SEIU said it has worked “particularly hard” to get Gillum into the Governor’s mansion. “Incredibly important to SEIU members is Gillum’s belief that health care is a fundamental right, and that coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions should be protected. Members also say his support of a $15 minimum wage and a starting teacher salary of $50,000 shows how he will put everyday Floridians first.”

No Spanish-language sample ballots in Duval during early voting” via Florida Politics — On Monday, plaintiff Marta Madera (on behalf of a variety of activist groups) sought an emergency ruling on Duval County’s failure to provide sample Spanish-language ballots at Early Voting sites. The filing was in the Northern District of Florida, as the failure of Duval to provide such ballots contravened a September preliminary injunction requiring such. The order would require Spanish-language sample ballots to be made available on Election Day. The Supervisor of Elections thought he was exempt from the original ruling because he doesn’t provide English-language ballots at early voting sites.

So where exactly did Ross Spano get more than $100,000 in his bid for Congress?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Spano’s newly released financial disclosure reveals loans from friends that appear to be the source of more than $100,000 that the Republican later loaned to his campaign for the U.S. Congress. The details emerged Monday after Spano finally filed a personal financial disclosure form that’s required of all congressional candidates. It was due three-and-a-half months ago. Under federal law, a personal loan to a candidate is considered a contribution to the candidate’s campaign, if the loan is intended to provide money for the campaign. The loans Spano received from his friends, and his subsequent loans to his campaign, far exceed the legal limits on campaign contributions.

Cook Political Report shifts CD 25 toward Dems — With hours left until the 2018 election comes to a close, handicappers at the Cook Political Report shifted Florida’s 25th Congressional District from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” Unlike neighboring districts 26 and 27, South Florida’s CD 25 produced a win for Trump two years ago as it re-elected U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart to another term by 25 points. This year, former circuit judge Mary Barzee Flores has put up quite a fight — she’s raised about $2 million to Balart’s $2.2 million. She’s also kept her nose clean during a final sprint that has seen the incumbent dogged with stories of faked mortgage applications, pay-to-play, and his wife’s involvement with a travel agency that booked trips to Venezuela — a major no-no for Cuban exiles who view the Maduro regime in much the same way as they do the Castro’s. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight also puts CD 25 down as a “Lean R,” giving Barzee Flores 2-in-7 odds to complete the flip Tuesday.

CD 26 draws $18 million in outside money; Florida, $37 million” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Outside groups have spent more than $37 million in Florida’s 27 congressional races with almost half of that going into a single contest: the battle for Florida’s 26th Congressional District in South Florida. Democratic groups led by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC have poured $11.3 million into trying to support Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and to oppose the re-election of Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Republican groups and others, including a couple of nonpartisan groups such as the No Labels PAC, have countered with about $7.1 million to support Curbelo or attack Mucarsel-Powell. That makes the CD 26 race far and away the most expensive in Florida, at least from the standpoint of outside groups’ spending. In four other Florida congressional districts outside groups have spent millions of dollars. But combined, the outside money pouring into those four does not add up to the $18 million spent so far in CD 26.


—“Big legislative races scattered throughout the state” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Senate GOP committee raises more than $19 million” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, raised about $19.14 million during the period, according to a newly filed finance report. It spent $20.31 million and had less than $1 million in cash on hand as of Thursday. The committee, which plays a key role in trying to elect Senate Republicans, received large chunks of money from other political committees. For example, the committee Friends of Dana Young, which is led by Sen. Dana Young, funneled $1.5 million to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in September and October.

Direct mail round up: Republicans attack Rob Levy for supporting popular Amendment 4” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — New attack ads criticize state Senate candidate Levy for supporting Amendment 4. The problem? Most polling shows that referendum cruising to passage. “Senate candidate Ron Levy wants convicted felons to vote,” blares a headline on a mailer from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. The splash page for the mailer in bold type lists groups who could soon return to voter rolls: “Drug Dealers,” “Human Traffickers,” “Child Abusers,” “Kidnappers.” “Levy believes convicted criminals deserve a voice just the same as those victimized by their crimes,” text on the flip side reads. “Putting felons at parity with victims and tipping the scales against honest, law-abiding citizens.”

Bob Levy is on the wrong end of attack mailers for his support of Amendment 4.

’No Mo’ Play In FL’: Rapper Pastor Troy endorses Joe Wicker” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Georgia rapper Troy recorded a 30-second message supporting Wicker for the seat to replace incumbent Ross Spano. Wicker grew up with the 40-year-old Troy in Atlanta and the two are friends. Troy, whose real name is Micah LeVar Troy, is the frontman for the rap group D.S.G.B., which stands for Down South Georgia Boys. “Hey yo, yo, this is your boy Pastor Troy. On Tuesday, November 6 it’s Election Day and we ready,” Troy says in the call. “I’m asking you to go vote for my boy, Joe Wicker. He ready and we ready.” Asked whether the nod from a popular rapper could help the conservative candidate tap into some of the minority vote, Wicker campaign manager Mike Norris said: “that’s the goal.”

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

Jennifer Webb a ‘sell out,’ attack mailer charges” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Two more attack pieces landed in voters’ mailboxes this weekend rallying opposition for Webb. Webb is running against Republican Ray Blacklidge for the House District 69 seat currently occupied by Kathleen Peters. One of the ads shows a giant spider web with the words “sell out” woven into it. The header reads “Wilbur is disappointed by this message in Jennifer’s Webb,” in a nod to the childhood classic “Charlotte’s Webb.” The other side of the mail piece, paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, shows a cartoon pig with the caption, “looks like more politics as usual, Charlotte” and cautions voters not to “get caught in Jennifer’s Webb.” Another mail piece shows an image of two preteen boys gazing longingly at a giant piece of cake. “The radical, job-killing agenda of a key ally of Jennifer Webb really takes the cake,” it reads.

Boosted by more donations from Jeff Vinik, transportation group raises almost $4 million” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Vinik and philanthropist Frank Morsani have given yet more money to All for Transportation, nudging the group’s total campaign contributions to almost $4 million. The citizens’ group, which is campaigning for the penny on the dollar sales tax for road, bus and transit improvements, reported raising another $850,000 in a two-week period ending Nov. 1. That included a $100,000 donation from Vinik, who between personal donations and contributions from companies he is associated with, has given $700,000 to All for Transportation. Morsani, a former car dealership owner, gave $100,000, raising his overall contribution to $250,000.

Student’s version of porn film incident at school different from judge candidate’s” via Steve Andrews of News Channel 8/WFLA — Eric Johnson, who now lives in Citrus County, got a call from his dad in Tampa a week ago about “the incident.” It seems 38 years after it happened, “the incident” managed to find its way into a Hillsborough County election. Eric’s sister spotted WFLA’s report about a political ad stating that judicial candidate Robin Fuson was fired from the school district in 1980 because the district claims he did not stop students from watching a pornographic film in his classroom. He states emphatically that he stopped the students who were trying to put the film into a projector. According to Eric and his father, Eric is the student who was behind “the incident.” He brought the film to Chamberlain High School to hand off to a friend.


90 percent of teachers return to county hardest hit by storm” via The Associated Press — School officials in the Florida county hardest hit by Hurricane Michael say 90 percent of teachers and staff reported for work, but they won’t know how many students returned until the end of the week. Bay District Schools spokeswoman Sharon Michalik said Monday that many schools are still without internet on the first day of classes since the Category 4 hurricane hit the Florida Panhandle more than three weeks ago. The storm destroyed several schools. Michalik says school officials won’t know how many of Bay County’s 28,000 public school students returned to classes because school officials have to do a paper-based attendance count.

Nearly 90 percent of teachers are returning to work in Bay County, the worst hit in Hurricane Michael.

PSC backs utility plan to help with storm repairs” via the News Service of Florida — State regulators approved a proposal by Florida Public Utilities Co. to help customers in Jackson, Calhoun and Liberty counties finance repairs to electrical equipment damaged in Hurricane Michael. Under the plan, the utility will pay upfront costs for electricians to fix certain equipment that is the responsibility of homeowners. The program will be optional for customers and will pay for repairs up to $1,500. Customers who participate will repay the money over the following year. The equipment that would be covered is on the outside of homes and does not include inside wiring.

Man who killed 2 at yoga studio was fired for touching girl” via Gary Fineout and Tamara Lush of The Associated Press — The man who shot and killed two women at a yoga studio was fired from his job as a substitute teacher for inappropriately touching a middle schoolgirl, a Florida school district said. Paul Scott Beierle, 40, posed as a customer during a yoga class Friday, then began shooting, authorities said. A 61-year-old faculty member at Florida State University and a 21-year-old FSU student from Georgia were killed. Five others were injured. Beierle then killed himself. … Kelly Schulz, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District, said Monday that Beierle was fired in May after he asked a female student if she was ticklish and then touched her at the top of the stomach “below the bra line,” a district report says.

— “Tallahassee Yoga studio shooter, Stormier gunman had parallel path” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat

My daughter’s roommate was one of the yoga shooting victims” via John Thomas for the Tallahassee Democrat — Maura BinkleyAnna’s roommate, wanted to go on a run, but the weather was bad so she decided to attend a yoga class instead. Around 6 p.m. I got a frantic call from my daughter. There had been a shooting at a yoga studio and that Maura was not answering her phone. I told her there was probably a logical explanation as to why she might not be answering her phone, but as a father, I could sense in her voice that I needed to come to town to reassure her that everything was OK. In the ensuing hours, the world as we knew it was turned upside down. In a stark hospital auditorium, frantically awaiting any information, we were told the devastating news that Maura was dead. Gunned down in a yoga class. Now we can be added to the long list of communities nationwide that have experienced the devastation of gun violence and what it does to our children. The future is filled with the scars of way too many shootings, and forever altered by our inability as a society to address handgun violence and mental illness.

Maura Binkley was killed in a shooting Friday in Tallahassee.

Businesses to see drop in workers’ comp rates” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The state Office of Insurance Regulation announced late Friday that it has decided to approve an overall 13.8 percent decrease in workers’ compensation insurance rates for 2019. That is a slightly larger cut than a 13.4 percent decrease proposed in August by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, an organization that makes rate proposals for the insurance industry. Regulators gave the organization, commonly known as NCCI, until Wednesday to take a formal step of amending its filing. But when the 13.8 decrease is finalized, it will follow a 9.5 percent rate decrease that took effect this year.

Board puts off vote on health proposals” via the News Service of Florida — A board led by Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier sidestepped voting on a number of consumer-protection issues. Altmaier told members of the Florida Health Insurance Advisory Board that they would discuss proposals but would vote at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 13. “That should give everybody a sufficient amount of time to review the recommendations,” Altmaier said. The commissioner then twice moved to limit talks, saying he was concerned about time constraints. After discussion on a recommendation that patients be provided one free copy of their medical records, Altmaier suggested that they “pause discussions.” He said he wanted to reserve time for any public remarks, but there were no public remarks and the meeting lasted less than an hour.


Joe Henderson: GOP’s midterm election negativity was nonstop” via Florida Politics — If you’ve been exposed to campaign pitches from both sides, I don’t have to explain which one has been peddling fear and which one is offering positive change. Gillum has promised to take on the NRA, push for health care expansion, more money for teachers and schools, and higher corporate taxes to pay for it. DeSantis warned that Gillum would “monkey up” the state’s economy and immediately was widely criticized for using a racist term. Scott has relentlessly pounded Nelson as a career, do-nothing politician who votes the Democratic Party line with regularity and rarely shows up to work. And a PAC that supports Scott even managed to sneak in a dog whistle about Nelson’s age, which is 76, with this line in a commercial that is getting a lot of airtime: “The poor man seems more and more confused.” Really? Did they go there? Yes, they did. Here’s what we do know now: While negative ads have been a standard part of political campaigns for decades and will continue to be, I think DeSantis and Scott took it to the next level this year. If both men lose, it may be the voters’ way of saying: We’ve had enough of that.

Don’t be scared by untruths about Amendment 4” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Amendment 4 is about fairness, not politics. Passing it would be a rightful rebuke of the current clemency process, which is fickle, random and can be subject to racial bias. In 2011, Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet imposed a minimum five-year wait for anyone to be considered for clemency and consider each application individually based on no uniform standards. Scott and three Cabinet members, who sit as the Clemency Board four times a year in Tallahassee, often ask irrelevant, intrusive questions about an applicant’s marriage or driving habits. Most people are denied. Passing Amendment 4 would erase from the state Constitution a Jim Crow-era relic that excludes more than 1 million citizens from a basic and sacred right, which should not be deprived of anyone who has completed their sentence.

Predictions for Tuesday’s elections, and some Florida races to watch” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Senate — Rick Scott. Quite simply, I’ve learned not to bet against the man. He has repeatedly defied expectations, winning, even when he had cruddy poll numbers. Governor — Andrew Gillum. Even if I get this one right, I’ll be wrong. Cabinet races (Attorney General, CFO, Agriculture Commissioner) — All Republican, continuing a trend. Interestingly, this may be the weakest crop of cabinet candidates the GOP has fielded in years. Amendments: I think most will pass. I recommended no votes on most — and yes votes on 4, 12 and 13. I think Nos. 10 and 11 will go down. (Too much junk crammed into each.) Eskamani vs. Reeves. This race is interesting. Democrat Anna Eskamani is generally viewed as one of her party’s rising stars — young, outspoken and unapologetically liberal. She has had a grassroots campaign rarely seen before in legislative races. The results here may be a referendum on the effectiveness of character attacks.

’Blowing smoke’: Sorry, pundits, but you have no clue what will happen on Tuesday” via Peter Hamby of Vanity Fair — Polls remain our best tool for reading the electorate and discerning important trends, which is why journalists, handicappers, and campaign managers depend on them so much. But polls are not predictive. They are wobbly around the margins. Pollsters, the honest ones at least, know this and repeat the warning over and over again. Yet even the shock of 2016 hasn’t stopped people in the media from making predictions about. “Consistently, the public polling here is garbage,” Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston told me. You know who knows the precise composition of this year’s electorate? No one. Electorates mutate every two years. They get older, they get younger, they get browner, they get whiter, they get smaller, they get bigger. They respond to new candidates and shifting issue sets. The only currency to cling to in the post-Trump era is that all bets are off.


Trump nominates Former Rick Scott staffer to run NEA” via Sopan Deb of The New York Times — Mary Anne Carter, a former staffer for Gov. Scott, was officially nominated to a four-year term as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Trump has proposed eliminating the agency multiple times throughout his time in office, but his calls have been ignored by Congress, which slightly increased its funding level in the spring. In a statement, Carter said, “I am honored and humbled to be nominated for this position.” The appointment was mostly a formality: Carter has been unofficially in charge of the N.E.A. as the senior deputy chairman since Trump’s transition. This was especially the case once Carter’s successor, Jane Chu, stepped down in June.

Congratulations: Former Rick Scott staffer Mary Anne Carter is the permanent head of the NEA.

Tampa Bay Times cuts more jobs” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The newspaper confirmed to The Poynter Institute that it would reduce the newsroom headcount by 16. The eliminated positions include nine full-time jobs and seven part-timers. The layoffs come just six months after another a previous round of layoffs in April, when the Times cut around 50 jobs. Those cuts were made after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint. “Although saying goodbye to talented journalists is never easy, we’re also actively hiring for mission-critical jobs that will keep us moving forward,” Times Executive Editor Mark Katches told Poynter in a statement. “We’ve been adding to our investigative reporting team and are planning to hire digital producers and a deputy editor overseeing digital strategy and audience engagement.”

— ALOE —

Election Day deals: Uber, Lyft and others offer free or discounted rides to polls” via Kelly Tyko of USA Today — Ride-sharing apps are making it more affordable to get out and vote. Uber and Lyft both say they will offer free or discounted rides to polling places Tuesday. According to a Lyft blog post, it was estimated that over 15 million people were registered but didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. Uber is partnering with #VoteTogether and Democracy Works to make sure that transportation isn’t a barrier to getting to the polls, the company said.

You can use a cellphone to help you vote. Just don’t take a picture” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — You cannot take a selfie with your ballot on Election Day. Why? It’s against the law. Read Florida Statute 104.20: “Any elector who, except as provided by law, allows his or her ballot to be seen by any person … is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.” A first-degree misdemeanor is (again, according to statute) punishable by imprisonment of no more than a year. That also doesn’t mean you have to leave your cellphone at home. Sample ballots, voter guides, newspaper recommendations — many of them are at hand on your trusty cellphone. Local supervisors of elections have the right “to implement policies and procedures to maintain order at the polls,” according to Sarah Revell, director of communications at the Florida Department of State.

Even if you are Justin Timberlake, a selfie with your ballot is illegal in Florida.

Josh Cooper going from Election Day to mahi-mahi” via Roxanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — Tallahassee-based opposition researcher Cooper has had plenty on his “plate” the past few months. But after the winners are called Tuesday night, he will head to Orange Beach, Alabama to dish up something much tastier than political dirt at the 7th Annual World Food Championships (WFC). There are 10 food categories in the competition and Cooper and his teammates are hoping to earn a spot in the finals in the Seafood category when they cook up Coconut and Mango Glazed Mahi Mahi with Avocado and Mango Salsa on Thursday. If they win the preliminary round, Cooper and sous chefs Gannon Hunt and David Lee will prepare their chef’s choice on Saturday — Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, the recipe that earned them a spot in the championship. Hunt, a designer by trade, is responsible for creating beautiful plating, an important job, since presentation is a large part of the scoring.

Josh Cooper’s plate is full, both figuratively and literally.

Free beer will be back at SeaWorld Orlando in 2019 as revenues, earnings pop” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Sesame Street land should open on time, and the free beer will flow again in 2019 at the Orlando theme park, SeaWorld’s interim CEO said. John Reilly gave updates on what’s happening at the parks as the company posted strong financials for the third quarter in a row. SeaWorld Entertainment’s revenue rose 10 percent to $483 million, and attendance is up 10 percent to 8.3 million visitors. Earnings reached $212 million, up 22 percent from the third quarter in 2017. During an earnings call, an analyst asked Reilly how confident he was that Sesame Street land would open on time in the spring after the park’s new raft ride, Infinity Falls, didn’t hold its grand opening until October — a source of disappointment for executives. “I feel good about our ability to open Sesame Street as planned,” Reilly responded.

Happy birthday belatedly to Angela Dempsey (how could we have missed this? We’ll blame Hayden for not reminding us). Celebrating today is our Dan McAuliffe, the great Eric Deggans, Seminole Commissioner Lee Constantine, Pinellas Commissioner Janet Long, and our friend Jon Stewart.

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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