Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.5.19

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

She’s only in her first term, but Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez could soon be vying for a Senate seat.

p style=”text-align: justify;”> source familiar with Rodriguez’s thinking tells Florida politics that the Miami Republican plans to file for the District 39 seat currently held by termed-limited Sen. Anitere Flores.

When contacted Tuesday night about a possible run, Rodriguez confirmed she is evaluating a potential Senate run, but said nothing is final.

“The answer is yes, I’m definitely considering the possibility,” Rogriguez said, though noted other responsibilities have taken up much of her time post-Session.

“Honestly I’ve been mainly focusing on HD 105, my full-time job and being with my family,” she added. Rodriguez said that should she decide to enter the contest, she is unsure when she would announce.

Ana Maria Rodriguez is widely expected to mount a Senate bid.

Rodriguez’ expected candidacy is the result of Sen. Wilton Simpson’s efforts to recruit top-tier candidates for the 2020 cycle — Simpson is set to take over as Senate President assuming Republicans hold their majority next November.

When HD 105 representative jumps in, she’ll join a field that already contains three other Republicans: Angie Chirino, a singer and former congressional candidate, Daniel Sotelo, who previously ran as an unaffiliated candidate in House District 119 and Alexandria Suarez, an attorney.

SD 39 is expected to be competitive in 2020, so whoever emerges from the Republican Primary next year will have all eyes — and a heap of party resources — focused on them.

In 2016, Flores won re-election over now U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell by 10 points, though SD 39 voted blue by the same margin at the top of the ticket.

Thus far, only Pinecrest Vice Mayor Anna Hochkammer has filed for the Democratic nomination. While Pinecrest sits outside the boundaries of SD 39, Hochkammer says she recently began renting a condo in Key Largo. She served as PTA President of Palmetto High School before being elected to the Pinecrest Village Council in 2016.

Still, she could prove formidable. Hochkammer’s inaugural finance report showed more than $50,000 in contributions.

Lest we forget: Florida State University President Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte will be remembered with a “Celebration of Life” on Wednesday afternoon.

As the university described him, the “brilliant legal mind and international champion of human rights” passed away May 20 at the age of 85.

A tribute will be held Wednesday for FSU President Emeritus Sandy D’Alemberte. Image via FSU Photography Services.

He was FSU president 1994-2003, dean of the College of Law 1984-89, and a law professor for much of his career.

Among his many accomplishments, D’Alemberte also served in the Florida House 1966-72, chaired the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 1977-78 and completed a term as president of the American Bar Association in 1991-92.

The memorial service will begin at 2 p.m., in FSU’s Ruby Diamond Hall, 222 S. Copeland St., Tallahassee, and also will be webcast at wfsu.org/dalemberte. 

Ron DeSantis orders flags at half-staff for Sandy D’Alemberte” via Florida Politics — Gov. DeSantis, as a “symbol of respect,” has ordered flags at half staff to honor the late D’Alemberte. The announcement came from the Governor’s Office Tuesday evening. The Governor directed “the flags of the United States and the State of Florida to be flown at half-staff at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee, City Hall of Tallahassee, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee, from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, June 5,” the message said.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Jim_Jordan: So let me get this straight. The DOJ determined that President Trump did not obstruct Justice. But to make the case that he did, @RepJerryNadler is bringing in John Dean, who was actually found guilty of obstructing justice and was disbarred as a result!

—@KaitlanCollins: Mitch McConnell on President Trump‘s threat to impose a five percent tariff on all goods from Mexico: “There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that’s for sure …”

—@SeungMinkim: Confirmed per WH official that Pence will lead the trade talks tomorrow with the Mexican delegation at the White House. Critical discussion on future of Trump’s proposed tariffs on Mexico as POTUS remains out of the country

—@MarcoRubio: It’s also in Mexico’s interest to deal with surge in illegal migration. In Southern Mexico many people complain that the government is providing more help to migrants than they are to poor Mexicans. We should work together to address the drivers of migration from Central America

—@GovRonDeSantis: I fully support @RealDonaldTrump’s decision to restrict non-family travel to communist Cuba. As long as the Cuban military regime continues to play a critical role in destabilizing and impoverishing our hemisphere with violence, they should not be rewarded with U.S. dollars.

@MattGaetz: Craig, you left out the part where u spread blogs that provide a justification for political violence. That’s why you are the #EnemyOfThePeople. I’m sure you’re a lovely husband/father, but that doesn’t absolve your unrelated corrosive acts.

@CraigTimes: I spread a lot of things about #Florida. Sometimes I even RT you. But I’ll never RT you when you call any journalist an #EnemyOfThePeople — especially given what happened at the Capitol Gazette last year.

—@JeffSchweers: Ag commish @NikkiFried notes the start of Pride month by mentioning @FDACS policy barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. “Despite recent hurtful comments against the LGBTQ community … that doesn’t reflect Florida,” she said.

—@JaredEMoskowitz: There isn’t enough justice or laws or accomplishments that can ever account for what happened at MSD in Parkland, but I’ll take this one. Now strip him of his 10k a month pension.

—@SkylerSwisher: A bill was filed this year (before the criminal charges) that would have stripped Scott Peterson of his pension, but it died in committee. Peterson’s attorneys argued the bill was unconstitutional because it would inflict punishment on Peterson without a judicial trial.

—@AnaCeballos_: Listening to a recount of the 12 hours it took Broward County law enforcement officers to notify parents about their child’s murder in wake of the Parkland school shooting. It’s heartbreaking.

—@MDixon55: A human on television just said you have to have a landline to be polled

—@ConanObrien: Win or lose at least the Toronto Raptors know they have health care.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 2; U.S. Open begins — 5; Madonna and Bruce Springsteen each release new studio albums — 9; Father’s Day — 11; Donald Trump formally announces his 2020 re-election campaign in Orlando — 13; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 13; “Toy Story 4” opens — 16; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 21; “The Loudest Voice,” about Fox News and Roger Ailes, premieres — 25; “Spider-Man: Far From Home” opens — 27; Independence Day — 29; “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” premieres — 51; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 55; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 80; St. Petersburg primary election — 83; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 86; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 87; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 87; Labor Day — 89; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 103; “Joker” opens — 121; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 145; Scott Maddox trial begins — 152; 2019 General Election — 153; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 155; 2020 Session begins — 223; Iowa Caucuses — 243; New Hampshire Primaries — 251; Florida’s presidential primary — 286; 2020 General Election — 517.

— TOP STORY —

It’s turkey time — On Wednesday, Florida TaxWatch will unveil its 2019 Budget Turkey report, a highly anticipated and annual event that pokes holes in the state budgeting process and provides transparency to the taxpayer. The list addresses member projects that made it through Session embedded in the spending plan lawmakers passed in early May. This year’s Budget Turkey report will provide recommendations to lawmakers to improve the vetting process for future member projects as well. Budget Turkeys “promote transparency in public budgeting, encourage meaningful legislative review of all appropriations and facilitate the checks and balances within the budget process that are granted by Florida’s Constitution,” a TaxWatch news release said. A news conference debuting this year’s list begins 11:30 a.m. at the Florida TaxWatch Headquarters, 106 N. Bronough St., Tallahassee.

— DATELINE: TALLY —

DeSantis signs ban on officials’ blind trusts” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis signed a bill that would prevent elected officials from using blind trusts — an issue that led to a controversy involving former Gov. Rick Scott. DeSantis, who had a Wednesday deadline to act on the bill (SB 702), gave his support to the measure after a Cabinet meeting. “I read the legislation. I think it makes sense, so I will sign it,” DeSantis said. Scott, the wealthiest governor in Florida history, put his assets in a blind trust while he was in state office. As a result, he did not have to publicly disclose his specific investments and business interests, as most public officials do under financial-disclosure laws.

Back to work: After a ceremonial meeting in Israel, Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet get back to business.

DeSantis, Cabinet push Mike Hill to apologize for laughing at homophobic comment” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — At a Cabinet meeting, DeSantis commented on the situation for the first time. He said he supported House Speaker José Oliva, who called on Hill to apologize for his actions in a joint statement with Rules Chair Chris Sprowls. Their statement called the incident “unacceptable.” They called for Hill to apologize, but not resign. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis served with Hill in the Florida House, and said he thinks Hill misspoke and should apologize so the state can “heal and move forward.”

DeSantis pledges closer look at bank regulator accused of sexual harassment” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will “definitely” get involved in the investigation of the state’s top banking regulator, who’s been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior only weeks after he started the job. Ronald Rubin, commissioner of the state’s Office of Financial Regulation since being confirmed by the Cabinet in January, said he would not resign. He wrote in an 11-page memo that the allegations are a smear because he declined to hire a friend of a Tallahassee lobbyist. But DeSantis pledged to personally look at a preliminary inspector general’s report, ratcheting up the pressure on Rubin, who heads a normally obscure office overseeing banks, check-cashing stores and payday loan shops.

DeSantis awards $78.1M for Hurricane Irma recovery in Miami-Dade County” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Gov. DeSantis announced that Miami-Dade County would receive an additional $78.1 million to help pay for recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma. That money will come from the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). It adds onto nearly $120 million approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in late May. “Florida has been severely impacted over the past several years due to devastating hurricanes,” Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said. “This critical funding provided by FEMA and FDEM is imperative for continued recovery efforts in Miami-Dade County after Hurricane Irma.” “Today, we are taking yet another significant step forward for hurricane recovery in Florida,” DeSantis added.

Michelle Whitworth named to clemency post” via the News Service of Florida — Whitworth, a longtime employee of the state Commission on Offender Review, was named clemency coordinator by DeSantis and members of the Florida Cabinet. Whitworth, who has been an investigator supervisor the past six years for the Commission on Offender Review, will be paid $68,000 a year in her new position, which coordinates clemency meetings, refers applications for investigation and serves as a custodian of clemency records. Whitworth was the lone applicant for the job to be interviewed.

— STATEWIDE —

Jimmy Patronis calls Republican congressmen who opposed disaster aid ‘shameful’” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Congress finally approved a financial disaster relief package that will bring billions of dollars of needed aid to the still-struggling area. But two Florida Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives — Greg Steube from Southwest Florida and Francis Rooney from Naples — were among 58 Republicans who voted against the long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill. Their opposition was duly noted by Florida Chief Financial Officer Patronis, who was born and raised in Panama City. The Category 5 storm ravaged Patronis’ hometown. “If I was in their district, I’d vote ‘em out,” Patronis said while speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting.

The two Florida Republicans who voted against Hurricane Michael disaster aid explain why.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Of the 58 Republicans who voted against the measure, two hailed from Florida: Reps. Rooney and Steube. Rooney: “It has become all too common for Congress to use disaster funding to break through spending caps that are in place. There are legitimate needs for funding to assist with recovery from horrific natural disasters that affected Florida and other states around the country; however, I could not support a bill that is completely fiscally irresponsible.” Steube: “While I’m glad the Panhandle received the funding it desperately needed, I could not in good conscience vote for the Supplemental Appropriation which was filled with outrageous spending and no plan to pay for it.”

U.S. Reps. Francis Rooney and Greg Steube have some explaining to do. 

Are conditions changing to produce more hurricanes this season? Colorado State forecasters think so” via David Fleshler of the Sun Sentinel — A closely watched hurricane forecast called Tuesday for a busier Atlantic hurricane season than originally predicted, saying climate conditions may be changing to favor more of the powerful storms. Colorado State University predicted six hurricanes this season, an increase from the five it forecast in April, when it said to expect a slightly below average season.

Ashley Moody weighs in on death penalty changes” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Moody’s office is urging the Florida Supreme Court to reverse course on decisions that allowed dozens of convicted murderers to have their death sentences reconsidered. Moody’s office filed a 59-page brief in a case in which the Supreme Court is delving into whether changes in Florida’s death-penalty sentencing system should continue to be applied retroactively to cases dating to 2002. The issue stems, in large part, from rulings in 2016 by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court about the state’s death-penalty sentencing system. It also comes after DeSantis appointed three Florida Supreme Court justices early this year — turning what had widely been viewed as a liberal court into a conservative court.

There’s an app for that: Moody launches no scam price gouging app for hurricane season” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Moody launched the NO SCAM app, which allows consumers to quickly and effectively report price gouging in real-time and allows Moody’s office to receive those reports immediately. App users can attach photos, copies of receipts, or any other relevant information from their smartphone. “Price gouging during a declared state of emergency can leave Floridians feeling defenseless and cause a sense of urgency for needed commodities,” Moody said. “The stress caused by an approaching storm and its disruptive, and sometimes, devastating aftermath should not be further intensified by price gouging.”

Twenty-six people applied to be Florida’s Chief Resilience Officer” via Amy Greene of WLRN — A Hurricane Michael survivor and former White House staff member are among the applicants for the DeSantis administration’s new position of chief resilience officer. Florida joins a growing number of states funding a position just to deal with climate change. The position drew 26 applicants, including the administrator of the state’s Resilient Coastlines Program and director of Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center. Dan Kreeger of the Association of Climate Change Officers says Florida is among a growing number of state and local governments with these kinds of positions. The chief resilience officer will report to the governor’s office and coordinate a statewide response to climate change.

Floridians’ economic confidence dips amid talk of tariffs” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — In May, after reaching its highest level in 17 years, the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research survey’s measurement of consumer optimism saw its biggest one-month drop since May 2015. That score was 101.7 in April. It dropped to 96.4 in May as the result of finding more uncertainty in all five components that make up the survey. Looking to the future, respondents were less confident about where their personal finances will be in a year. This was especially true for those making less than $50,000 a year. And the outlook for the U.S. economy weakened for both the one-year and five-year horizon. If anything, researchers had expected a slight uptick in consumer confidence.

Florida adds new voucher program, more schools receive public money as participation declines” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The number of students using state vouchers to attend private schools has dipped for the first time in recent years as corporate contributions have slowed. At the same time, the number of campuses receiving state-backed scholarships continues to grow. The funding allows children to attend largely unregulated and mostly religious schools. Step up for Students, a nonprofit organization that administers the largest voucher program, the Florida Tax Credit scholarship, cited a slowdown in contributions from corporations that receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits in return.

At MSD Commission meeting, Bob Gualtieri praises law allowing arming of teachers” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — At a Tuesday meeting of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri praised the passage of a new school safety law (SB 7030) that implements recommendations from that commission. Among those recommendations is a new provision allowing teachers to be armed after undergoing training as part of the state’s Guardian Program. Gualtieri said the Legislature worked to adopt “a significant number of recommendations from this commission in our January report.” Near the top of Tuesday’s meeting, he thanked the leaders of both chambers, Senate President Bill Galvano and House Speaker Oliva, as well as the bodies’ respective Education Committee Chairs, Sen. Manny Diaz and Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, for their work.

Sugar companies hit with federal class-action lawsuit over health effects of cane field burns” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — There have been more than 100,000 cane field burns in Palm Beach County since 2004, according to former state Sen. Joe Abruzzo, who now serves as the director of government relations at the Berman Law Group. According to Abruzzo, there are also 700 hospitalizations for asthma in Palm Beach County for every 100,000 residents. Abruzzo announced the lawsuit along with lead attorney Zach West; Berman’s senior adviser Frank Biden, brother of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden; Belle Glade resident Clover Coffie, a lead plaintiff in the suit; and former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, who was born in Pahokee and attended high school in Belle Glade before a standout college career at the University of Florida.

Medical marijuana firm seeks OK to expand” via the News Service of Florida — Alpha Foliage filed a petition with the state Office of Medical Marijuana Use seeking to increase its number of storefronts. The company, which operates as Surterra, is asking the state to exempt its 13 original “medical marijuana treatment centers” from a statutory cap that limits the number of storefronts to 35. The cap expires in April 2020. The state already has authorized a Surterra competitor, Trulieve, to go beyond the cap. In the filing, Surterra attorneys asked the state to interpret the law “consistent with the manner it did for Trulieve.” Surterra operates 23 locations statewide and has additional locations pending for approval.

Assignment editors — NFIB and Floridians Against Lawsuit Abuse will hold a news conference on to announce the release of reports assessing excessive tort costs in Florida’s major cities, Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Suite 100, Tallahassee.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump administration halts cruises to Cuba under new rules” via Matthew Lee and Michael Weissenstein of The Associated Press — The Trump administration imposed major new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens, banning stops by cruise ships and ending a heavily used form of educational travel as it seeks to isolate the communist government further. The Treasury Department announced that the U.S. would no longer allow cruises to Cuba or the group educational and cultural trips known as ‘people to people’ travel to the island. … Along with the cruise ships, the U.S. will also now ban most private planes and boats from stopping in the island. … Commercial airline flights appear to be unaffected and travel for university groups, academic research, journalism and professional meetings will continue to be allowed.

Donald Trump bans much of the U.S. travel to Cuba.

Army Corps: $200 million in Trump budget for Everglades keeps EAA reservoir on schedule” via Tyler Treadwell of TCPalm — The project would have been delayed at least a year and maybe much more under the president’s original proposal of about $63 million for the Everglades, said Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, the Army Corps of Engineers deputy commander for South Florida. The reservoir and adjacent stormwater treatment area, when used in conjunction with other existing and planned projects that will be funded in the proposed budget, is expected to reduce the number of damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers by 63 percent. It also will send an average of about 120.6 billion gallons of clean water south to the thirsty Everglades and Florida Bay every year.

What Jeff Sharkey is reading — “U.S. House appropriators tackle marijuana banking issues” via RouteFifty.com — The Treasury Department and some other federal agencies would be prohibited from spending money to penalize banks for doing business with state-regulated marijuana companies, under a House Appropriations bill lawmakers pushed ahead this week. It’s doubtful that the bill on its own will drastically expand the limited banking services that are now available to cannabis retailers, growers, and other businesses in the sector, given that the measure does not cover the Justice Department and its law enforcement agencies. But marijuana industry advocates and others say the provision is a sign that Congress could be moving toward enacting more extensive marijuana banking legislation.

Amazon paid Ballard Partners to lobby against vendors who sell counterfeit goods” via Brian Schwartz of NBC News — From July 2018 until March 2019, Amazon has been paying Ballard Partners up to $70,000 each quarter for, in part, lobbying on issues related to “trade and tariff policy,” according to three disclosure reports. However, people familiar with the matter said that the disclosure reports only tell part of the story. … They’re trying to “stop third party actors from shipping fake Nikes to the United States under the guise that they’re real products,” said a person familiar with their efforts. Amazon is increasingly concerned about fake and pirated products on its marketplace. In a February warning to investors, the company used the word “counterfeit” for the first time.

FOR DREAMERS THE BELL TOLLS

Dreamers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will ring the NASDAQ opening bell Wednesday morning, one day after House Democrats drummed up support for the “Dream and Promise Act of 2019.”

The legislation seeks to provide long-term resident solutions for recipients of TPS and Dreamers, a term used to describe immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

The effort, coordinated by the LIBRE Initiative and Stand Together, coincides with Immigrant Heritage Month.

Serendipity?: As the Dreamers ring the NASDAQ bell, the Trump administration will be discussing tariffs imposed on Mexico by the U.S. in an attempt to curb illegal immigration.

Big Apple: Dreamers and TPS recipients will speak with business leaders following the bell ringing in New York City, “one of the focal points of our economy as well as an illustration of the incredible cultural dynamism that is America — to ask their help and support in pushing for change,” said Daniel Garza, President of The LIBRE Initiative, and Jorge Lima, Senior Vice President of Immigration for Stand Together, in a joint statement.

More: Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference Tuesday acknowledging the legislation. Some speculate the bill could meet resistance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

— 2020 —

Political ad spending will approach $10 Billion in 2020, new forecast predicts” via Alexandra Bruell of The Wall Street Journal — Political ad spending will increase to $9.9 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast from WPP PLC’s ad-buying unit GroupM. That would be up from $8.7 billion in 2018, the year of the most recent midterm Congressional elections, and $6.3 billion in 2016. The growth between presidential campaign years is accelerating. Political spending in 2018 was “shockingly high,” said Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at GroupM. “There’s just generally more activity in a presidential year than a nonpresidential year, so whatever the 2018 number was, 2020 was going to be bigger.”

Trump tries to upend the 2020 map” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Trump officials are zeroing in on New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire, where they insist there’s an opening despite heavy losses Republicans suffered there in the midterms. They’ve deployed around a half-dozen staffers to New Hampshire and several to Nevada, an unusually early investment in places that favor Democrats. And the campaign is doing polling to tease out Trump’s level of support in New Mexico, a focal point for campaign manager Brad Parscale, and they have discussed dispatching aides to the blue state. The maneuvering underscores how Trump is trying to capitalize on his vast financial and organizational advantage over Democrats.

Donald Trump is working to change the electoral map, by targeting blue-leaning states. Image via Getty.

Jared Kushner sees a problem in Donald Trump’s fundraising, but not everyone agrees” via Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni of The New York Times — Amid policy missteps and at the risk of frustrating Trump, Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has set his sights on what he has described to people as a new problem in need of his attention: fundraising for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Specifically, Kushner has cast a disapproving eye on the fundraising apparatus run primarily by the Republican National Committee, and its chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, whose close relationship with Trump is said to irk him. But there was no broad agreement among the people there that the campaign is having any trouble raising money from large donors, as Kushner suggested.

Florida could be hurt by Census undercount, especially of black and Hispanic households, new report finds” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — A paper by the Urban Institute predicts that Florida will suffer greater undercounts because it has particularly high Hispanic and black populations. Census takers have historically missed people in those racial groups. Further, a controversial citizenship question, which is expected to dissuade Hispanic residents from responding, would particularly affect the state. These anticipated factors threaten to undermine Florida’s reported population, making it less accurate than in most of the country. Within the state, areas with many black and Hispanic households would lose out more than heavily-white neighborhoods, warned Diana Elliott, a senior research associate at the institute and an author of the report. “Certain communities will miss out on their fair share of funding,” Elliott said.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

2 Republicans file to challenge incumbent Democrat Darren Soto for U.S. House District 9 seat” via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger — Sergio Ortiz of Kissimmee and Bill Olson of Davenport have both filed paperwork to run in the 2020 race for U.S. House District 9. Soto, a Democrat from Kissimmee, won decisively in the previous two elections. Neither challenger has held elected office before. Ortiz, 54, is a mortgage banker, and Olson, 55, is retired from a career in the Army. District 9 covers northeast Polk County, including Haines City and Winter Haven, as well as parts of Osceola and Orange counties. The population in the district is nearly 46 percent Hispanic, according to Ballotpedia. The Cook Partisan Voting Index lists the district as leaning Democrat by 5 percentage points.

Nick DiCeglie kicks off re-election with Wednesday event” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Freshman state Rep. DiCeglie is holding a fundraising kickoff reception for his House District 66 re-election campaign in Clearwater. According to the fundraiser invite, the reception is 6 p.m. at Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way. The fundraiser features an extensive host committee that includes several Pinellas County politicians such as former state Rep. Larry Ahern, former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, among others. Those looking to attend can let the campaign know by calling 407-849-1112 or emailing [email protected]PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

What impact will K.T. McFarland have on daughter Fiona McFarland’s state House race?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It will take money, Republicans acknowledge, to beat Democrat state Rep. Margaret Good. But McFarland, while new to the area, created an immediate buzz. Specifically, many wonder if Fox News personality K.T. McFarland, the candidate’s mother, would bring national connections. Critics question the elder McFarland’s influence and whether her presence casts more of a cloud on the Florida race. McFarland’s time in Trump’s White House came as a deputy to Michael Flynn, a short-lived national security advisor. Flynn resigned less than a month into Trump’s administration. The elder McFarland ultimately appears in the Robert Mueller Report about 75 times, not counting citations. “It’s definitely a red flag,” said former state Rep. Ray Pilon.

With Aramis Ayala’s backing, Deborah Barra launches campaign for Orange-Osceola state attorney” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Barra launched her campaign Tuesday to replace her boss as the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s top prosecutor – a race she said would be “the biggest trial of my life.” … Ayala announced last week she’s not running for a second term, citing her continuing opposition to the death penalty. In a statement, she said Barra has proven to be a “skillful, ethical prosecutor and an effective leader.”

— LOCAL —

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael” via Josh Solomon and Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — For Bay County Emergency Management Division Chief Joby Smith and Gulf County Emergency Management Director Marshall Nelson, preparing for such a storm is in their job descriptions. What have you changed? Smith: We have made sure that we are going to have better satellite systems to be able to communicate from our emergency operations center. That’s one. So after the storm goes by, hopefully, we can re-establish communications a little bit quicker from our (center) than we did. Smith added: We’re also looking at putting in place some of our own logistics contracts to where we have items, equipment, things that normally we would have to wait on for the state to drive in for us.

Former Broward deputy Scot Peterson charged with child neglect for ‘inaction’ during Parkland massacre” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Broward Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday arrested former Deputy Peterson on charges stemming from his alleged inaction during the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Peterson, along with BSO Sergeant Brian Miller, have also been fired by Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. Peterson was the school resource officer on duty when the Valentine’s Day shooting took place. He has been sharply criticized for failing to confront the shooter; 17 people were shot dead, and 17 others were injured. Now, Peterson has been charged with seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the agency said in a release.

Former Broward Sheriff Deputy Scot Peterson is now facing criminal charges over the Parkland shooting. Image via Getty.

Future in doubt for Tampa-Havana travel with new restrictions from Trump administration” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — The Trump administration announced new restrictions on American travel to the island nation 90 miles off Florida’s shore, including an end to cruises and group tours. Tampa hosts cruises as well as flights to Havana. “This is a huge mistake,” said Suzanne Carlson, founder Tarpon Springs’ Carlson Maritime Travel. “This is going to have an impact on those of us who book travel to Cuba.” Group and educational trips, otherwise known as “people to people” travel, now become illegal. The short-lived opportunities introduced Americans to Cuban artists and businesspeople and taught the nation’s history. The new Department of Commerce guidelines says: “Cruise ships, sailboats, fishing boats, and other similar aircraft and vessels generally will be prohibited from going to Cuba.”

We tried to cross downtown Tampa via scooter. Here’s how it went.” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — On attempting to move a Spin, it made a sound like an angry Transformer, so I stopped and downloaded the app and entered a debit card. Some require you to pre-load $5 or $10 up front. Then you scan a barcode with your phone, and you’re off. It never felt crowded on the sidewalk with the scooters and pedestrians. The final leg of the journey is when it became clear: it is nearly impossible to ride these scooters without smiling. Cruising past Fort Brooke Cotanchobee Park and the waterfront at a thoughtful pace, seeing the ongoing rise of the Water Street district from a new perspective — while moving fast enough to stay relatively cool and breezy — was lovely.

— OPINIONS —

You can’t trust a Chinese audit” via Marco Rubio for The Wall Street Journal — Many Chinese businesses are listed on U.S. stock exchanges, but Beijing’s intransigence ensures that American investors often don’t get a true picture of those companies’ financial health. Chinese practices undermine the fair and transparent financial reporting at the heart of American capital markets. In December 2018, the SEC and PCAOB acknowledged that “for investors — both U.S. and non-U. S. investors — a U.S. listing carries with it the assumption that U.S. rules and regulatory oversight apply.” When it comes to Chinese companies, that simply isn’t true. The U.S. and its allies must send a clear message: If Chinese companies want to be listed on U.S. exchanges, they must comply with American laws and regulations for financial transparency and accountability.

The coming GOP apocalypse” via David Brooks of The New York Times — As Ronald Brownstein pointed out in The Atlantic, older Democrats prefer a more moderate candidate who they think can win. Younger Democrats prefer a more progressive candidate who they think can bring systemic change. The generation gap is even more powerful when it comes to Republicans. To put it bluntly, young adults hate them. It’s hard to look at the generational data and not see long-term disaster for Republicans. Some people think generations get more conservative as they age, but that is not borne out by the evidence. Moreover, today’s generation gap is not based just on temporary intellectual postures. It is based on concrete, lived experience that is never going to go away.

Florida Supreme Court poised to let ‘harmless error’ kill 173 death row prisoners” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The Court is asking the Attorney General and the attorney for a death row prisoner for briefs on whether to retreat from or expand its deadly reliance on ”harmless error.” Considering how DeSantis’ three recent appointees have taken the court far to the right, death penalty opponents are bracing for bad news. All but a handful of Florida’s 340 death row prisoners were sentenced in a manner unlawful today because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. For many of them, however, the Florida Supreme Court maintains it was “harmless error.” Now, some justices appear to want that excuse to apply to virtually all of them.

Audrey Gibson: Dennis Baxley, Hill refuse to let go of prejudices” via the Orlando Sentinel — Whether or not either one ever acknowledges their blatant lack of judgment is irrelevant, because who they are speaks loudly in their recent remarks. Baxley is no stranger to controversies such as these, and neither is Hill. They refuse to let go of the prejudices many of us have struggled against for just as long to overcome. If their words were simply the rantings of two angry men, we could pass this off as a momentary distraction. But they are not. They are two men commanding the public’s attention by virtue of their elected office, both holding the power to file legislation and craft policies directly impacting the lives of every single one of us. And therein lies the danger.

Proposals, jokes about killing gay people? Don’t act surprised.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — I’m not here today to further condemn the obvious. Instead, I want to ask some of the condemners to think about the role they play in fostering this anti-LGBT mindset — this dehumanization of LGBT citizens. Because Florida wallows in it. Legislators have refused to add sexual orientation to the list of outlawed discriminations. In Florida, it’s still legal to deny someone a job or housing based on who they love. And earlier this year, DeSantis was in Orlando praising an anti-LGBT school as the future of Florida education. This isn’t subtle discrimination. It’s blatant — actually teaching kids that LGBT citizens aren’t equal as human beings. Government should never actively fund or promote that discrimination.

— MOVEMENTS —

DeSantis appoints Anthony Miller to Leon County CourtMiller, 48, of Georgia, has been the General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer for Florida’s Agency for State Technology since 2017. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and his law degree from Florida State University. Miller fills the vacancy created by the elevation of Stephen Everett from county judge to circuit judge — DeSantis’ first circuit judge pick as Governor.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jim Boxold, Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: Sandhill Recycling

Brian Bautista, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Centurion Lab Services, Pharma-Natural

Jonathan Kilman, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Eaze Wellness

William Stander, Whisper: Amplify Education

— ALOE —

Downtown Ramen Bar abruptly closes” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Downtown Ramen Bar and The Deck Pizzeria Pub both introduced menu offerings that were missing downtown. Neither made it to celebrate their first anniversary. On Monday, the Ramen Bar abruptly closed its doors. A sign alerted customers, along with a Facebook post: “Sadly Downtown Ramen Bar has closed its doors today. We will not be reopening …” Elizabeth Emmanuel, executive director of the Downtown Improvement Authority, said more diversity is needed downtown to “really thrive.” “While we see peak seasons with session and football bringing thousands, we need foot traffic year-round to support the local restaurants and create the hub of activity we speak about wanting,” said Emmanuel, who was a frequent patron at the Ramen Bar.

Gone too soon: The Downtown Ramen Bar has closed for good.

’Right Stuff’ series to film this fall in Cocoa Beach” via Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel — A National Geographic series of Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff” will begin production this fall in Cocoa Beach, the channel has announced. Patrick Adams of “Suits” will play Maj. John Glenn in the series, which will debut next year. The series has some major talents behind it. Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio is an executive producer. Emmy-winner David Nutter (“Game of Thrones”) will direct the premiere. Mark Lafferty (“Castle Rock,” “Genius”) will be the showrunner. The series will depict how test pilot Glenn “locks horns with Alan Shepard in an unrelenting fight to be the first man in space,” the announcement said.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

So many great politicos are celebrating including Rep. Ricardo Rangel, Brad Burleson of Ballard Partners, Kevin Cleary, legislative affairs director at the Florida DEP, Jose Fuentes, Matthew Hunter, Seth McKeel of Southern Strategy Group, former Rep. Amanda Murphy, and Heidi Otway of SalterMitchell.

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

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



#FlaPol

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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