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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.10.19

Start the week off right with ‘Sunburn.’

Florida Democrats gathered this past weekend for the state party’s Leadership Blue 2019 meeting at Walt Disney World.

Even though President Donald Trump is announcing his re-election campaign in Orlando in less than two weeks, and Florida promises to be crucial for any path to the White House, none of the major Democratic presidential candidates were at Leadership Blue since most of them were attending a competing event hosted by Iowa Democrats this weekend.

Because of that, it would be easy to label the FDP as one of the ‘losers’ emerging from the conference and gala, but anytime an organization pulls off an event this big (one estimate pegged that at least 900 people attended Saturday night’s gala) and no one is rushed to an emergency room, it is exempt from the L-column.

Still, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other winners and losers emerging from Leadership Blue. Click here to read about the W&Ls that really stood out.

As 2020 looms, Florida Democrats are still dissecting 2018” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A summary of the report from the Path to Power Commission, a panel established in January to autopsy Democratic losses in 2018 and chart a path for the 2020 presidential campaign, was released to a divided audience as Democrats gathered in Orlando for Leadership Blue. During an hourlong meeting to summarize the report, party officials and activists challenged co-chairs of the commission for what they saw as the report’s shortcomings. “I was disappointed that the Path to Power Commission did not include any analysis of the 2018 election in their presentation summarizing their long-awaited report,” said Juan Cuba, former head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and a critic of the state party’s leadership, including chairwoman Terrie Rizzo.

Florida Democratic Party says it has a plan to beat Trump in 2020. Florida Democrats aren’t so sure.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — A few dozen Democratic activists gathered in a small and steamy convention center room where they were told they would hear the Florida Democratic Party’s plan to start winning statewide elections. Or, as some Democrats see it, stop losing them. The blueprint? Compete in all 67 counties. Build the ground game earlier. Engage minority groups. Register more voters. The presentation lasted all of 15 minutes. The reaction was a resounding: “That’s it?” Nowhere was that angst more palpable than the room where Democratic leaders unveiled the preliminary results of the “Path to Power,” a month’s extended reflection on why the Blue Wave seemed to miss Florida last year.

Climate change debate? Democratic Party chair Tom Perez says it’s ‘not practical’ when confronted by Florida activist” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — If the Democratic Party agrees to provide a special platform for climate change discussion, then advocates for other causes will expect the same, Perez said. Already, he said, there are calls for debates on gun violence reduction, democracy reform and foreign policy because “Donald Trump might try to get us into a war in order to win reelection.” “It’s just not practical,” Perez told the activists. He added: “And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.” But some progressive groups say climate change is the most important issue of the time.

DNC chair Tom Perez addresses the crowd at the Florida Democratic Party leadership blue Gala in Orlando this weekend.

Florida Democrats need 500,000 more voters to win in 2020, expert says” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Mike Coleman told Florida Democrats at a state party conference in Orlando that they need to have 5.5 million registered voters by November 2020 if they hope to turn the state blue for the presidential election. Florida currently has a little less than 5 million Democrats, about 4.7 million Republicans and 3.6 million voters with no party affiliation. Last year, Republicans won a U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s race by thin margins. Coleman says that even though Republicans’ numbers are smaller, they do a better job of turning out their voters.

Warning to Florida Democrats: Presidential election recount is coming in 2020” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — “We are going to be prepared,” Brandon Peters told a packed room of Democratic activists at the state party’s Leadership Blue 2019 meeting at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Peters, who was hired by the state party last month, said there would be teams of volunteers trained in how to monitor county canvassing boards for recount problems around the state, should one take place in the 2020 presidential election. Peters said by July 2020 he hopes to have 15,000 lawyers and volunteers in place around the state to address any voter problems. “If you see something, say something,” Peters said. “Once we are aware of the problem, we will do something about it.”

Andrew Gillum: Investigation won’t derail push to ‘flip Florida blue’” via Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Speaking at a gathering of Florida Democrats in Orlando, called the federal probe — which he labeled an inquiry — “unsettling.” He said he has “no clue” what federal authorities are examining. “We ran an open and honest campaign,” Gillum told reporters he after greeting Democrats as part of the party’s annual Leadership Blue meeting. “I stand by the work we did there.” During the reception, Gillum stood on a platform to tell those assembled that he was willing to take “slings” and “arrows,” but that he and his supporters would not be distracted from their job to “flip Florida blue.” The question, however, is whether the federal investigation could dampen donor enthusiasm.

As Florida Democrats ponder 2020, one topic isn’t on the agenda: Impeachment” via Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Florida Democrats gathered over the weekend at a posh Disney hotel in Orlando, where they had plenty to say about President Donald Trump and the Republican record on abortion, health care and immigration. Here’s what they didn’t talk about: Impeachment. The topic has transfixed Washington and divided Democrats who control the U.S. House, which has launched investigations into the president in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s findings of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But in Orlando, there was barely a whisper about impeachment and little talk about whether the president had attempted to obstruct the Mueller probe, a sign of how politically fraught the subject is.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@NYTimesPR: We are confident in our reporting, and as with so many other occasions, our stories stand up over time, and the president’s denials of them do not. Calling the press the enemy is undemocratic and dangerous.

@JohnWDean: Would someone get Trump a dog. He needs a friend so he won’t endlessly vent on Twitter. He’s uninterested in government and policy. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t exercise. He has no real friends. A dog might save humankind. Admittedly, it a lot to ask of a dog. But help is needed.

@NewsBySmiley: Florida Democrats get exasperated at the Republican campaign to brand them as socialists … but they know it’s a problem

@WakullaWriter: That comment about not having a strong 67 county strategy? How far back do we want to go on that statement?

@MDixon55: Night almost over, and biggest-ish cheers were for videos of @AnnaForFlorida and @CarlosGSmith The strategic and policy differences within the different silos of the Florida Democratic Party will be something to watch

@SContorno: Had the chance to ask Democratic Party chair @TomPerez some questions about Florida and 2020 at the state Dem summit in Orlando. His question for me: What the hell happened to the Lightning this year?

@CarlosGSmith: Disgraced Rep. @MikeHillfl won’t apologize or take responsibility for his disgusting behavior. Now he’s promoting a “Rally for Support” outside the @pnj office he claims is “fake news.” If you support your lawmaker laughing about the execution of gays, THIS IS THE EVENT FOR YOU!

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet

— DAYS UNTIL —

U.S. faces Thailand in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — 1; U.S. Open begins — 3; Madonna and Bruce Springsteen each release new studio albums — 4; Father’s Day — 6; Rick Scott hosts a Hurricane Preparedness Conference in Orlando — 7; Trump formally announces his 2020 reelection campaign in Orlando — 8; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 8; “Toy Story 4” opens — 11; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 16; “The Loudest Voice,” about Fox News and Roger Ailes, premieres — 20; “Spider-Man: Far From Home” opens — 22; Independence Day — 24; 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing — 40; “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” premieres — 46; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 50; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 75; St. Petersburg primary election — 78; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 80; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 81; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 82; Labor Day — 84; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 98; “Joker” opens — 116; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 140; Scott Maddox trial begins — 147; 2019 General Election — 148; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 150; 2020 Session begins — 218; Iowa Caucuses — 238; New Hampshire Primaries — 246; Florida’s presidential primary — 281; 2020 General Election — 512.

— TOP STORY —

Hepatitis A is out of control in Florida — here’s why the state isn’t telling you about every case” via Noah Pransky for Florida Politics — With Hepatitis A cases skyrocketing across Florida, reported cases among food workers are also on a steep rise. Yet the DOH chooses not to notify the public of some food worker cases, according to a spokesperson, as the agency weighs the risk to patrons against the risk of a public health scare. Not every Hepatitis case may necessitate public notice, but it’s becoming a daily occurrence in Florida. The state reports more cases of Hepatitis A in the first five months of 2019 than the previous five years combined. Tampa Bay is ground zero for the epidemic, with cases of the liver virus particularly prevalent in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.

— DATELINE: TALLY —

Ron DeSantis, U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue host timber roundtable — DeSantis and Perdue held a roundtable discussion at the Governor’s Mansion to discuss the recovery of Florida’s agriculture and timber industry from the impacts of Hurricane Michael. The two leaders were joined by elected officials and stakeholders from throughout the state. DeSantis said: “By combining the efforts of our state and federal partners, we will work to ensure the much-needed disaster aid signed by President Trump reaches our farmers and timber growers efficiently so this industry can thrive once again.”

Talking timber: Ron DeSantis hosts a roundtable with U.S. Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue to talk about Hurricane Michael and its multibillion-dollar effect on Florida’s timber industry.

Governor signs measure mandating hygiene products for incarcerated women” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The bill (HB 49) was pushed for months by Reps. Shevrin Jones and Amy Mercado. Sen. Jason Pizzo sponsored the Senate version of the bill (SB 332). Jones says he took note of the issue in 2017 after fellow state Rep. David Richardson toured several prisons throughout the state. Those trips saw inmates denied basic necessities like toothpaste, soap and toilet paper. Jones said he was approached by a constituent who said women inmates have it even harder. “One of my church members mentioned that not only do those within the prisons lack those basic things, but women sometimes do not have feminine hygiene products,” Jones recalled.

Happening today — Senate Special Master Dudley Goodlette will hold a prehearing conference in an appeal by suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, 10 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building.

Bills stalled, but process of Florida occupational license reform gaining traction” via John Haughey of The Center Square — After DeSantis appointed “champion of deregulation” Halsey Beshears to lead the state’s business regulatory agency and orchestrated Florida’s first-ever “Deregathon” in January, occupational licensing reform had great momentum when the legislature convened. A spate of proposed bills trimming occupational licensing red tape affecting 30 percent of Florida’s workforce was introduced, but none were adopted. Nevertheless, while legislative remedies failed to produce quick results, the process of deregulation and occupational licensing reform is gaining traction. DeSantis announced the Florida Real Estate Commission [FREC] had approved a 50-percent reduction in biennial renewal fees, which will save 200,000 state-licensed real estate professionals about $8.8 million in their cost of doing business through 2023.

Ron DeSantis speaks Sunday at the 21st Annual Family Café in Orlando. Family Café is the nation’s largest cross-disability annual event and connects people with disabilities and their families with a variety of products, services, and resources.

First in Sunburn —Nikki Fried names doctors, lawyers, patients to new ‘Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee’” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Members of the committee include Kim Rivers, CEO of the Trulieve medical marijuana provider; Dr. Barry Gordon, owner and Chief Medical Officer of Compassionate Cannabis Clinic in Venice; David Kotler, a partner in the Cohen Kotler law firm in Boca Raton and is ‘of counsel’ to the Hoban Law Group in Denver; Dr. Michelle Weiner, certified in Interventional Pain Management, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Zachary Kobrin, special counsel at the Akerman law firm in Fort Lauderdale; Dan Russell, a regulated industries lawyer with Dean, Mead & Dunbar in Tallahassee and a former general counsel of the Florida Lottery.

Lauren Book, Kristin Jacobs laud motion on C-51 Reservoir” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed into law a bill authorizing future operations of a new South Florida reservoir. The facility will be one of two that limits discharges from Lake Okeechobee and help curb blue-green algal blooms. “The importance of this historic measure cannot be overstated as its impact on South Florida water will be felt both in terms of availability of clean drinking water and impacting our environment for the foreseeable future,” said Book. “Everyone involved in making this happen should be thanked for the incredible effort that went into this landmark legislation.” The legislation (HB 95) ensures the C-51 Reservoir, which has been fully designed and permitted, will allow the South Florida Water Management to capture 35 million gallons a day.

First in Sunburn —Oscar Braynon to run for Miami Gardens Mayor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Sen. Braynon wraps up more than a decade in the Florida Legislature next year. But the Miami Gardens Democrat isn’t done with politics. Braynon confirms he will file as soon as August for Mayor of his hometown. “I’m ready to come home,” he said. He suggests his years in the Senate and House will prove invaluable in terms of inter-government cooperation. But he promises constituents he’s not done with senatorial duties yet. Giving updates in Florida’s most Democratic Senate district after a year of conservative legislative victories means delivering lots of unwelcome news. “This Session turned out different than if the person my district voted for became Governor,” he said.

— STATEWIDE —

FDOT to restart fines, penalties on backlogged SunPass tolls” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) it will reinstitute late fees on delinquent customers’ next billing cycle, likely at the end of June. Drivers were told they would have until June 1 to pay off their accounts. However, the state avoided questions this week about what happens to drivers who still cannot afford to pay down big balances, or those who simply chose not to. An FDOT spokesperson says customers with outstanding balances will get one more warning by mail — or email — before their next bills includes administrative late fees. However, FDOT said it would not resort to blocking delinquent drivers from renewing their vehicle registration, as other Florida tolling authorities are planning.

State officials warn motorists to look out for gas pump skimmers” via Lamaur Stancil of TCPalm — “Florida is known for beaches, oranges, Disney but also fraud,” Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Fried said outside an Orlando 7-Eleven. “We are the top state for scams, and we can’t let that continue. Since my election, I’ve made fighting consumer fraud and consumer protection top priorities in my agenda — and a big part of that fraud is happening at the gas pump.” Gas pump inspections in recent weeks have led to state officials collecting 259 skimmers. Five of those were in Brevard County, three in St. Lucie County and a pair in Martin County. Fried wants to form a statewide interagency task force to tackle skimmers, as well as other identity theft and consumer fraud.

Nikki Fried takes part in a gas pump skimmer inspection in Orlando to showcase the increasing number of gas pump skimming frauds in Central Florida. Image via ClickOrlando.com.

Old friends, and a grand jury inquiry, follow Gillum into private business” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Sharon Lettman-Hicks is part of CJD Group, LLC., a consultant company Gillum registered Jan. 25. Two months later, federal authorities demanded records on Gillum and Lettman-Hicks in a grand jury subpoena that included several other entities related to the two longtime friends. Gillum’s business launched after 15 years as an elected official in Tallahassee, the last few clouded by an FBI probe into city hall and capped by an agonizing defeat in November. Yet rather than a fresh start with a new business, the subpoena is another example of how Gillum has been unable to escape the tentacles of a federal probe that dogged his gubernatorial campaign and now threatens his future political aspirations.

Sexual harassment allegations rock Tallahassee again after leaders fail to consider #metoo laws” via Gray Rohrer — Ronald Rubin was in charge of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation for less than three months before being suspended over sexual harassment allegations. Now, the agency is facing turmoil and upheaval at the top against the backdrop of a sexual harassment claim that could test the state’s response to the issue in the #metoo era. Sexual harassment in the workplace burst into public consciousness again in 2017. Florida leaders attempted to respond, spurred also by complaints made against former Sen. Jack Latvala, who resigned after a Senate investigation found merit with many of the complaints made against him involving unwanted touching and advances. They changed or updated rules for how harassment complaints were handled within the Legislature and state agencies, but lawmakers failed to pass a bill to place those standards firmly into law.

Worst story you’ll read today —8-year-old forced to put rag in her mouth while being beaten in foster home: Police” via Zachary Stieber of NTD News — The girl was told to “just get your rag.” That meant that she was going to be beaten, she told investigators, and the rag was “so nobody can hear me,” according to arrest reports. The injuries were described in police affidavits as “an uncountable number of whip and lash marks throughout (the child’s) entire body.” The girl said that her injuries were not from being abused when Duane Fletcher, her caretaker, was present, but when Fletcher was removed from the foster home, the girl told police that her foster brother, Fletcher’s son Rashad Tarvaris Forman, caused the injuries, along with a woman later identified as Turella Michele Forman.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Marco Rubio proposes special task force to investigate the ‘Maduro crime family’” via Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald — Rubio asked Attorney General William Barr to create a special task force to consolidate all ongoing investigations into the criminal activities of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro. In a letter to Barr, Rubio wrote that the task force is needed given that Maduro benefits and protects multiple criminal enterprises that pose a risk to stability in the region and to U.S. national security. “I encourage you to consider establishing a special unit or task force to appropriately consolidate investigations and prosecutions related to the Maduro crime family into a Florida-based unit that could more effectively coordinate evidence and intelligence,” Rubio wrote.

Rick Scott pushes to cut prescription prices” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — Scott is drawing fierce opposition from groups that usually are allies — those on the political right, who are condemning his proposal as “socialism.” Scott may be an unusual advocate for lowering drug prices. The multimillionaire former governor and his wife, Ann, have been longtime investors in Gilead Sciences, the controversial manufacturer of hepatitis C medication which cost U.S. and Florida taxpayers millions of dollars when used to treat Medicaid patients and prison inmates. Gilead also became a model for the kind of exorbitant pricing Scott now says he wants eliminated. “Is Sen. Rick Scott a reformer? This legislation may suggest a reformer emerging, or it may be political expediency,” said Jeremy Leaming, with the National Health Law Program.

Assignment editors — Scott will hold a roundtable discussion with health care leaders and patients to discuss his efforts to make health care more affordable, 10 a.m., Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, 3 Independent Dr., Jacksonville.

Michael Waltz takes part in ‘deeply moving’ airborne jump over Normandy” via Tony Hall of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — He called it an “unforgettable experience,” jumping out of an aircraft over Normandy, France on Sunday. He was just glad he wasn’t among those doing it 75 years ago over burning rubble and rifle fire. Waltz was one of hundreds of military veterans who recreated the jump to commemorate the 13,000 men who made the same jump during D-Day.

On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz reenacted the Allied forces’ parachute jump in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Donna Shalala: Good luck with that Canadian drug import bill” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Shalala, a former Health and Human Services Secretary under President Bill Clinton, called Florida’s Canadian drug importation bill silly, pure politics, and a measure with little or no chance of succeeding. “It is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of,” Shalala told reporters. “It’s just messaging.” Shalala joined state Sen. Lori Berman morning to push the Democrats’ federal and state health care priorities, notably defense of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of the Medicaid program in Florida. The two issues they pressed are not moving a lot right now, as the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” is tied up in court, being challenged in the courts by Trump and a handful of Republican-controlled states including Florida.

Patrick Murphy’s zombie campaign keeps him in the political game” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — Unlike other Congressional “zombies” who have kept campaign accounts open for years, Murphy converted his campaign account to a political action committee, PEM PAC. Converting campaign funds to a PAC is a legal mechanism for candidates who don’t wish to refund leftover donations or donate them to nonprofits. Outside of a few small travel expenditures around Florida and the cost of keeping his PAC running, most of Murphy’s leftover money was disbursed in the form of $500 and $1,000 checks to Democrats running for office in 2018. Murphy had just $13,798 left in his campaign account after the first quarter of 2017; his most recent filing indicated PEM PAC’s cash-on-hand was down to $777 at the end of 2018.

Happening today — Republican political operative Roger Stone will speak to the Palm Beach County Trump Club, 7 p.m., Palm Beach Kennel Club, 1111 North Congress Ave., West Palm Beach.

— 2020 —

Iowa poll: Joe Biden leads, followed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg” via Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register — A new Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll shows: Twenty-four percent of Iowa’s likely Democratic caucusgoers say former vice president Biden is their first choice for president. Sanders is the first choice for 16 percent of poll respondents, while Warren and Buttigieg are at 15 percent and 14 percent respectively. No other candidate cracks double digits. Kamala Harris comes closest at 7 percent, and other numbers within the poll indicate some underlying strengths for her. Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke are at 2 percent.

Joe Biden may not have been at the Iowa Democratic Party’s giant fundraiser — where 19 of his party’s rivals were scheduled to speak — but his presence loomed large.

Biden gambles on high-risk primary strategy” — From his schedule to his messaging to his policy positions, the former vice president is carving a divergent path through the primaries based on a theory that few of his rivals appear to believe — that the Democratic base isn’t nearly as liberal or youthful as everyone thinks. … It’s a high-risk strategy at a time when the progressive wing is pulsing with energy. There is a danger of looking disconnected from the rising Obama coalition, or seeming to adhere to an outdated view of the party. But so far it’s working. Since his April 25 launch, despite talk that his polling numbers would slide once he entered the race because he was out of step with the current party mood, Biden has instead led in every national survey. He sprinted out of the gate with a post-announcement 6-point bump and still hold leads in recent early state polls.

How Biden’s campaign confronted him on abortion” via Edward-Isaac Dovere of the Atlantic — Symone Sanders, one of Biden’s senior advisers, confronted him, telling Biden that he was missing how his position disproportionately affected poor women and women of color without easy access to abortion. Alyssa Milano, the actor who’s become a major online presence on issues of women’s rights as well as a friend of the Biden team, spoke by phone with Biden’s campaign manager, Greg Schultz, telling him that the candidate needed to change. More calls came in, more tough conversations. Everything Biden attributed the change to had been apparent long before he pivoted. The only thing that had changed was that he was now under attack from almost all of his 2020 rivals, from other major Democratic players, and people within his campaign.

Buttigieg’s high college debt draws attention to the issue” via Michelle Smith of The Associated Press — Buttigieg knows firsthand the burden of six-figure student loan debt. He and his husband, Chasten, are far from alone, though, and their personal college indebtedness is helping to keep the issue on the national stage. With loans totaling more than $130,000, they are among the 43 million people in the United States who owe federal student loan debt. The debtors are so numerous and the total debt so high — more than $1.447 trillion, according to federal statistics — that several of the Democratic candidates have made major policy proposals to address the crisis. Student loan debt is often discussed as an issue that mostly affects Millennials, but it cuts across age groups.

— MORE FROM THE TRAIL —

Assignment editors — The group Ban Assault Weapons NOW will discuss efforts to place a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot that would ban assault-style weapons in Florida, 11 a.m., Orange County Supervisor of Elections, 119 West Kaley St., Orlando.

Jim Bonfiglio in for rematch against Mike Caruso in HD 89” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Bonfiglio has filed to enter the 2020 contest as a Democrat. The two competed in 2018 to replace term-limited GOP Rep. Bill Hager. That 2018 match was one of six throughout the state to head to a mandatory machine recount. After all the votes were cast, Caruso edged Bonfiglio by just 32 votes out of more than 78,000. Bonfiglio sued to extend the machine recount deadline, but a federal judge denied that request. Hours after that decision, Palm Beach County, which houses HD 89, missed its deadline to recount votes due to technical difficulties with its machines. DeSantis eventually suspended Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher.

Jim Bonfiglio is up for another round in 2020.

In prep for mayoral run, Alex Penelas’ political committee brings in $400K in May” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — According to Miami’s Community Newspapers, former Miami-Dade County Mayor Penelas’ political committee, Bold Vision, will report $402,000 raised in May. That adds onto another $501,000 gathered in April, giving him more than $900,000 raised in just the last two months. Penelas has not officially filed to enter the 2020 contest but is widely expected to do so. So far, the only candidates formally in the race are Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, former Commissioner Juan Zapata and entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley.

Happening today — State candidates and political committees face a deadline for filing reports for finance activity through May 31.

— LOCAL —

’We’re still healing’: Orlando marks three years since Pulse tragedy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — On Wednesday, “The City Beautiful” will mark the tragedy in which 49 mostly Hispanic people were murdered and 53 others wounded at the popular gay nightspot on Orlando’s south side. “Three years later we’re still healing, and I still think that the community is showing a great amount of resiliency, through love and compassion and everything that has come out of this horrible tragedy,” said George Wallace, executive director of LGBT+ Center Orlando. “When I say community, it’s all of Orlando. It wasn’t just the LGBTQ community. It wasn’t just the LatinX community. It’s all of the Orlando community.” The primary remembrance, organized by the onePULSE Foundation, will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pulse Interim Memorial.

Pulse owner Barbara Poma focuses on memorial, healing” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Three years after the June 12, 2016, mass shooting, the site still holds a powerful draw for the mourning and the curious. But for Poma, now charged with shaping the memorial and museum scheduled to open here in another three years, it also brings a sense of duty. One question she doesn’t indulge is: Why? Why her happy little dance club, which so many considered a place of acceptance and escapism? “The whys are a very difficult, slippery slope,” she says. “I feel like if I start asking those questions, it will take me to a place I don’t want to be. The question is really: Why anybody?”

Three years out, and Pulse owner Barbara Poma is focused on healing and the upcoming memorial.

’Happy Memorial Day’ and good riddance: Holiday greeting leads to resignation of another aide to Orange Commissioner Emily Bonilla” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — An aide Bonilla resigned this week, citing a “hostile environment,” becoming the ninth Bonilla assistant to quit or be fired since she took office in Dec. 2016. “It’s a difficult job,” Bonilla said. Janette Martinez handed Bonilla a three-page resignation letter June 3 after the commissioner berated her for sending a “Happy Memorial Day” email to constituents in Orange County Commission District 5. “It’s very difficult to please her,” said Martinez. Bonilla was outraged at the holiday salutation and sent out a “correction” on Memorial Day, a national holiday to remember those killed in military service to the nation. Some combat veterans cringe when they hear the well-intentioned but awkward salutation for the holiday.

Downtown Tampa needs a ‘medical district,’ hospital CEO says” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa General Hospital is expanding its reach by strengthening its partnership with the University of South Florida and launching a new line of urgent care clinics. During a USF board of trustees meeting, the hospital’s CEO, John Couris, said he wants to help create a “medical district” in and around downtown Tampa with the help of USF Health and its Morsani College of Medicine. In addition to Tampa General committing to a $20 million lease of 25,000 square feet of space inside the medical school’s new building downtown, Couris and USF medical school dean Dr. Charles Lockwood want to create a more seamless process for patients treated by USF or Tampa General physicians.

Former Lee County deputy who rejoined agency in March has been placed on leave” via Michael Braun of The News-Press — A Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputy who challenged former Sheriff Mike Scott in the 2016 election and rejoined the agency earlier this year has been placed on leave. The Sheriff’s Office has confirmed James Didio, 34, is on leave. Details of his leave were not available. Didio was appointed and sworn in as a deputy sheriff for Lee County for the first time in March 2007. At the urging of supporters in 2016, Didio said he decided to get into the race against Scott as an independent. The popular Lee County incumbent handily won re-election.

— DISTURBING MOVEMENT —

The shooter who took two lives and his own at a Tallahassee yoga studio last November isn’t an isolated incident.

In fact, Scott Beierle’s actions joined hands with a growing hatred movement: male supremacy.

Steve Hendrix writes for The Washington Post: “Beierle was an avowed hater of women, a man who repeatedly grabbed women in real life and fantasized about raping and killing them in the horrific collection of lyrics, poetry and novels he began writing as a teenager. His interactions with the opposite sex had gotten him fired from teaching jobs, booted from the Army and hauled before the principal of his high school.”

More details: Hendrix details harrowing aspects of Beierle’s life, including his writing of a 70,000-word novel in which the middle-school protagonist kills women who rejected him. He also had a “bizarre catalogue of self-recorded music. In the lyrics, and a series of essays he wrote explaining them, he distills his anger at women into vengeance scenarios, including kidnapping and torture (“Locked in My Basement”), cannibalism (“Freshly Fried-up Girl”) and mass shooting (“I Will Not Touch You — My Bullets Will”).”

Red flags: Previous media reports have documented Beierle’s troubled history. “His interactions with the opposite sex had gotten him fired from teaching jobs, booted from the Army and hauled before the principal of his high school.”

The unsettling trend: The Southern Poverty Law Center began tracking the male supremacy movement a few months before Beierle acted. Beierle falls into the involuntary celibate or “incel” category, coined for men who blame women for their inability to find relationships. At least three other shooters since 2014 had documented their scorn for the opposite sex before acting.

— OPINIONS & ANALYSIS —

DeSantis may have decided the future of petition-initiative lawmaking” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — It looks like it will get harder to run a public-initiative campaign and put things to a statewide referendum, when legislators refuse to do something a substantial portion of the public wants. And Florida’s Republican legislators have certainly shown their solid, consistent opposition to expanding Medicaid or raising the minimum wage. Truth is, they never want to be told what to do at all. When the public has taken matters into its own hands and mandated such things as no more cheating on legislative or congressional redistricting, or channeling revenue from big development into buying conservation lands, or restoring voting rights of felons, the Legislature has found ways to defy the public will.

Joe Henderson: Good luck getting Florida amendments on ballot now” via Florida Politics — A lot of those annoying amendments don’t fit the GOP agenda. Hence, the action DeSantis to sign a bill that will make amendments harder and more expensive to get on the ballot. His official reason is that voters had too many amendments to consider last November. There were 13 such measures, and 12 of them passed. Not that it mattered in every case. When voters approved the restoration of voting rights for felons who had served their sentences, GOP lawmakers figured a way around that. That’s one of their skills. What Republicans have done, and they know this, is all but ensure that nothing they oppose will become law. That might be good politics, but it’s lousy governance.

Randy Fine ‘confounds critics’ and delivers on priorities for Brevard” via Nicolas Tomboulides of FLORIDA TODAY — Like Trump, Fine arrived in office a businessman appalled by business as usual. After spending his entire career in the private sector, he had suddenly entered a world where accountability didn’t exist. Career politicians responsible for these failures weren’t getting punished. They were getting reelected. Fine responded by proposing a series of reforms that would put the political elite on notice while solving problems in Brevard. I know he will continue to confound critics, disrupt the status quo, and deliver for the people of Brevard. The reality is this: Politics is a fight. It is a constant fight over the values we all cherish and how to create a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Mike Hill and the martyrdom of St. Snowflake!” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal — As a regular listener to Limbaugh, I know all about the “culture of victimhood.” As Rush explains, it is the prime culprit behind a pathetic modern habit of blaming everything for your problems except yourself. For practitioners of the “culture of victimhood,” all problems, either real or perceived, are never your own fault. As El Rushbo alleges, victimhood is the go-to philosophy of a wide assortment of life’s losers, ne’er-do-wells, millennials and of course, leftists. And also, apparently, Pensacola state Rep. Hill. In last week’s fallout from revelations that Hill had casually engaged in and laughed at a public proposition to create legislation to execute gay people, Hill blamed everyone except himself for the resulting widespread public disgust.

Parkland deputy who failed to confront school shooter must be haunted by decision” via Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald — The arrest of former Broward Sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson is one more gut-churning, grief-extending chapter of the 2018 massacre at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Never before has a law-enforcement officer been prosecuted in such a case, and the chances seem slim that an appeals court would uphold anything except a perjury conviction. There’s no way to know what would have happened if Peterson had done the right thing. But, for God’s sake, you’re supposed to try. Peterson must live with the fact he didn’t, and it will haunt him forever whether he’s behind bars or not.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer should open her books, then hang up her holster” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — For three decades, Hammer has been the face of the gun lobby at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. Hammer built her reputation by holding people accountable. Now Tallahassee must hold Hammer accountable if she failed to comply with the laws governing lobbyists — for five years. Two Democratic lawmakers have filed sworn complaints accusing Hammer of not filing quarterly compensation reports for her NRA work from 2014 through 2018, in violation of state law. The Senate rules allow for wiggle room when lobbyists make mistakes, but they must be an “inadvertent, technical or otherwise de minimis violation by informal means.” But five years of mistakes? That reeks of someone who believes that the rules don’t apply to her.

— MOVEMENTS —

First in Sunburn —Personnel note: Constantine Karides joins Florida Chamber’s board of directors” via Florida Politics — A partner at Reed Smith LLP, Karides adds global business experience to the 50-plus member body. Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said: “Constantine brings a wealth of experience to our Board and we look forward to working with him and our members to grow private sector jobs to make Florida more competitive.” At Reed Smith, Karides works for the Financial Industry Group. He counsels companies on issues ranging from distressed credit to corporate governance. As well, he boasts “considerable cross-border experience representing foreign companies operating in the United States,” a Chamber release said.

Congratulations to Constantine Karides, who is joining Florida Chamber’s board of directors.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Allison GoodsonJason Unger, GrayRobinson: Aramark Correctional Services

— LISTEN UP —

Dishonorable Mention: State Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Tampa Bay Times Columnist Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture: national, state, local, but from a place of love. They play “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Greater” with Tieder’s son Liam and his friend Laith; reactions to state Rep. Hill and state Sen. Dennis Baxley. Hosts talk about which is most accurate political show on TV, and they disclose summer vacation plans.

Gradebook from the Tampa Bay Times with host Jeffrey Solochek: Changing mascots, revisited — Hillsborough schools leaders reconsider plans to drop Native American stereotypes.

High Tops & Politics: Hosts Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancusco discuss problems with Starbucks and cellphone; Florida drones; safer elections and if the GOP undermining local government.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida with hosts John KennedyGeorge Bennett of The Palm Beach Post and Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune discuss DeSantis nixing the Scott law; GOP’s hard feelings on disaster aid; and “no coordination” between Biden and his brother, who is based in Florida.

Fluent in FloridianA discussion with Chris Castro, the Director of Sustainability for the City of Orlando and a self-proclaimed ‘ecopreneur,’ who has made it his mission to catalyze change through organizations such as Ideas for Us, Fleet Farming and Citizen Energy.

podcastEDAn interview with state Sen. Jeff Brandes on what he thinks the education world will look like in the year 2040.

REGULATED from hosts Christian Bax and Tony Glover: Former regulators Bax and Glover focus on the cannabis, alcoholic beverage, and gambling industries in Florida and across the country. The new episode begins by reviewing the 2019 Legislative Session in Florida — and ends up previewing the 2020 Session. The hosts also offer particular Session-related round of shout outs.

The Rotunda with Trimmel Gomes: The latest episode talks with tech-savvy lawmakers Brandes and Reps. James GrantJason Fischer and Jennifer Webb, who discuss some of the more “disruptive” issues facing Florida. Gomes held the exclusive roundtable featured in the Spring 2019 edition of INFLUENCE Magazine. He also talks with advocate Roy Miller with the Children’s Campaign who is concerned the state isn’t doing enough for today’s youth. Another featured guest is freelance journalist Kenya Woodard. And with just a year left before the start of the 2020 Census, Gomes highlights how some organizations are ramping up public awareness campaigns to urge people to fill out census forms.

— ALOE —

Freelance work leads to busy career for Florida journalist” via Natalie Beckerink of SizingUpTheSouth.com — Carol Brzozowski began as a news reporter in 1983 at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, then turned to freelance work in 1991. Once she started freelance writing, Brzozowski covered environmental and educational issues. This began after writing a cold letter to the editor of Stormwater magazine about 17 years ago. “The interesting challenge about freelance writing, and this is what people find out when they go into it, is how you get assigned stories,” she said. “That letter led to writing for their five other sister publications, which are all in the environmental sector.” One of the most important things for a writer is to be passionate and hardworking, especially in a time where the market is competitive, Brzozowski said.

It can be done: Carol Brzozowski transitioned from journalist to successful freelancer. Image via Twitter.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Belated birthday wishes to Chris Hand, Brad Miller, executive director of PSTA, and Jay Revell, Vice President of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. Celebrating today are Melanie DiMuzioNick Iarossi of Capital City Consulting, and Amy Farrington.

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.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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